(ABC4) – Popular social media platform Instagram will now be launching AMBER Alerts on its platform starting Wednesday.
Instagram says the AMBER Alert feature will be available in 25 countries over the next few weeks.
Users will receive alerts about a missing child including their picture, description, location of the abduction and any other available information at the time.
The alerts will be pushed out to users near the missing child’s search area. The company uses “a variety of signals, including the city you list on your profile, your IP address and location services (if you have it turned on)” to decide who may receive an alert.
Instagram is hoping the new feature will make sharing AMBER Alerts even easier.
“We know that the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the first few hours,” says Instagram. “With this update, if an AMBER Alert is activated by law enforcement and you are in the designated search area, the alert will now appear in your Instagram feed.
The new feature was developed with organizations such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the U.S., the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, the National Crime Agency in the UK, the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico, the Australian Federal Police and more.
“Instagram is a platform based on the power of photos, making it a perfect fit for the AMBER Alert program,” said Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “We know that photos are a critical tool in the search for missing children and by expanding the reach to the Instagram audience, we’ll be able to share photos of missing children with so many more people.”
Instagram’s parent company, Meta, says AMBER Alerts were launched on Facebook back in 2015. Officials say the feature has assisted in “hundreds of successful child endangerment cases in the U.S. and around the world.”
The company provides an example of the feature’s success, explaining how it aided in the rescue of a missing 11-year-old Massachusetts girl in 2020 and an abducted 4-year-old girl in Florida.
“Everyday heroes from Canada to Massachusetts to The Netherlands have found missing children in their communities after seeing targeted Facebook notifications,” says Instagram. “AMBER Alerts are an important way we can support our communities in keeping children safe, and we look forward to continuing this work.”
AMBER Alerts on Instagram will start rolling out on Wednesday and will be fully available in the next few weeks in 25 countries including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Ireland, Jamaica, Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa, Taiwan, Ukraine, the UK, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.
The company says they’re continually working to expand the feature to more countries in the future.