Instagram will start showing AMBER Alerts on their users’ screens to help hasten the process of finding abducted children. The feature is currently available in the U.S. and will soon be available in 20+ countries in the next few weeks, Instagram said.
Instagram clarified that AMBER Alerts are “rare and specific to the search area”
AMBER Alerts are historically broadcast on television, radio, or text messages. However, social media has time and again proven to be a treasure trove of valuable information, particularly in time-sensitive situations. In-app AMBER Alerts aren’t particularly new. The Facebook app has published AMBER Alerts since 2015, so its arrival on Instagram has been long overdue.
As The Verge notes, AMBER Alerts on Instagram can have more of an impact than conventional text messages. An AMBER Alert received via text requires the user to open a separate link to find additional details.
By comparison, Instagram AMBER Alerts will include all relevant details. Users will find a photograph, the date/place where the child was last seen, and a contact number. The alerts will pop up in the user’s feed as they scroll through content and not in the form of notifications.
It’s worth noting that AMBER Alerts only go out in emergency situations. Moreover, law enforcement agencies have stringent guidelines on when an AMBER Alert can go out.
“These alerts are rare and specific to the search area. If you get one, it means there is an active search for a missing child nearby. In order to know who to show these alerts to, we use a variety of signals, including the city you list on your profile, your IP address and location services (if you have it turned on),” Instagram said in a blog post.
Instagram AMBER Alerts will reach 24 other countries in the next couple of weeks
Instagram said the feature will expand to 24 additional countries in the next two weeks. These include 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, and the United Arab Emirates.
“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,” President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Michelle DeLaune, said.