The deal is made possible through a partnership between Facebook, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Department of Justice, and the Virginia State Police. The announcement coincides with the 15th anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, whose abduction was what got the AMBER Alert project going in the first place.
This partnership could mean big things for Facebook; if it becomes successful, the service could one day be used for other local and global emergency alerts. These could include warnings about natural disasters, serial killers, and even terrorist threats.
The AMBER Alert bulletins, which have reportedly helped save 525 children to date, are traditionally distributed via television, radio, and through roadside signs. They started being sent out to AOL users who requested them in 2002, to MySpace users in 2007, and are now even available via SMS. It looks like Facebook is the next big thing.