Amber Alerts will now be distributed on Facebook in an effort to spread the word faster about missing children.

Each state has set up a page to post the alerts, law enforcement and Facebook officials said Wednesday. When a state issues an alert, people who are fans of that state's Amber Alert page will be notified. Authorities hope people who see the alerts will share the news on their own Facebook pages.

"They can share that information with their friends in a way that immediately spreads the word that a child needs our help," said Chris Sonderby, Facebook's lead security and investigations counsel and a former federal prosecutor.

Allowing Facebook's 500 million users to opt-in to receive the alerts is an "important extension of the national Amber Alert program," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Thursday is the 15th anniversay of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, for whom the system is named.

The District's Amber Alert Facebook page is, Maryland's is and Virginia's is