Meta announced Wednesday that Instagram would launch Amber (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alerts on the social media platform in an effort to help find missing children.
The feature, which begins rolling out immediately, will allow users to see and share notices of missing kids in their area.
It will be fully available in 25 countries in the coming weeks.
Those countries are 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 U.K., the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.
Instagram said it is working to expand that list.
Instagram noted the success of Amber Alerts on Facebook – which launched in 2015 – and said that the feature was developed in partnership with organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), the National Crime Agency, the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico and the Australian Federal Police.
"We know that the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the first few hours. 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," Instagram said in a post.
The alert will include important details about the child, like a photo, description, location of the abduction and any other pertinent information.
Instagram users will be able to share the alert with friends.
Alerts are specific to locations and Instagram said it uses a variety of signals – like the city on a profile, location services that are turned on and IP addresses – in order to know who to show the alerts to.
"If you get one, it means there is an active search for a missing child nearby," the company said.
"Instagram is a platform based on the power of photos, making it a perfect fit for the AMBER Alert program," NCMEC chief executive Michelle DeLaune said in a statement. "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."
Amber Alert has been used for more than 25 years as the leading method to help find missing kids. At least 1,074 abducted children around the world have been safely recovered as a direct result of Amber Alerts.
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