Saturday, February 08, 2014

Some have asked how Amber Alert on Facebook came it is

Parry Aftab serves as one of five members of Facebook’s international Safety Advisory Board. During a meeting with Facebook senior executives at Facebook headquarters in March 2010, Facebook indicated that they had recently added new features to pages that could be used to target regional members of Facebook. They thought it might have law enforcement and safety applications and mentioned Amber Alert possibilities.

Parry turned to Allan McCullough, who was seated at her side (and has been her husband for the last three years J), asking if he could help get the Canadian provincial Amber Alert teams involved. (Allan had been directly involved in bringing Amber Alert to New Brunswick, where he was living at the time.) He asked if Facebook would be willing to roll this out first in Canada, before the US or UK. They agreed.

While creating “official” Facebook pages was easy for Facebook (an “official” Facebook page is created by Facebook itself and its name is protected by Facebook on the network), these pages, given the subject matter, should not have 3rd party advertisements and should not permit users to post on the Amber Alert pages’ walls. Facebook, for the first time in the world, customized the page templates to remove 3rd party advertisements and user-post capabilities to meet our needs.

Allan (and Parry) championed this project with Facebook, which committed several of its senior policy people to help develop the pages and support the initiative. Allan himself built each of the pages for the provinces, donating his time to help make Amber Alert on Facebook a reality. Parry has lent her media and policy expertise to help publicize the initiative and support the stakeholders to help this succeed. She has also provided content of her charity,, to be used on the Amber Alert pages, as has Allan from his non-profit, the Child Safety Research and Innovation Center.

The first public launch of Amber Alerton Facebook in the world occurred on #PEI, at Allan's insistence. (He is an Islander!)