Instagram to start pushing Amber Alerts to users' feeds

·2 min read
This Week in Apps: WWDC preview, hitting the Top Charts, Instagram's AMBER Alerts

Instagram announced today that it's launching in-app Amber Alerts to allow users to see and share notices of missing children in their area. With this new feature, 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 alert will include information about the missing child, including an image, description, location of the abduction and other available information known at the time. Users can then share the alert with their friends on Instagram to further spread the word.

The company says that since the alerts are rare and specific to search areas, if you get an Amber Alert on Instagram, that means there is an active search for a missing child near you. Instagram says it uses available information in order to determine who to show the alerts to, such as the city listed on a user's profile, their IP address and location services, if they have it turned on.

Amber Alerts on Instagram are rolling out starting today and will be fully available in the next couple of 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 United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Instagram says it's looking to expand the Amber Alerts to more countries.

It makes sense for Instagram to launch Amber Alerts in its app, for several reasons. Firstly, unlike the text Amber Alerts that are pushed via wireless carriers and that require you to click a link to get information, Instagram's alerts will include and display important information about the missing child and search directly to users. Secondly, it's also possible that Instagram's alerts will reach younger users who may often ignore text messages but visit Instagram frequently.

The new feature was developed in partnership with organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the United States, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom, the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico, the Australian Federal Police and more.

"Amber Alerts are an important way we can support our communities in keeping children safe, and we look forward to continuing this work," said Emily Vacher, the director of trust and safety at Meta, in a blog post about the announcement.

Instagram's parent company Meta first launched Amber Alerts on Facebook in 2015. Since then, the social media giant has displayed Amber Alerts to the feeds of Facebook users in designated search areas. Meta says the alerts have assisted in hundreds of successful child endangerment cases in the United States and around the world.