• Instagram is rolling out a feature to help locate missing children.
  • Shareable AMBER Alerts will display in a user's feed when they are within the search area. 
  • Alerts, which will be available in 25 countries, will be triggered by law enforcement officials.

Instagram users will now be notified when a child is missing in their area.

An AMBER Alert will appear in a user's feed if they are within the search area of a missing child. It will show the child's photo, description, and location of the abduction, as well as other available information.

It can also be shared with friends to increase awareness. 

The feature was announced on Wednesday. It will be rolled out to 25 countries over the next few weeks, including the US, the UK and Mexico. 

The alerts are triggered by law enforcement and cover only the area where there is an active search for a missing child.

Instagram uses listed profile locations, IP addresses, and location services, if they are turned on, to know who to show the alerts to. 

"We know that the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the first few hours," Instagram wrote in a blog post announcing the update.

AMBER Alerts were first introduced on Facebook, which is also owned by Meta, in 2015. The blog post states that the platform has since "assisted in hundreds of successful child endangerment cases in the US and around the world."

Once couple ended up in a high-speed car chase after seeing a missing child's report on Facebook and recognizing the suspect's car as it past them. 

"Photos are the most important tool in the search for missing children," said John Bischoff of the Missing Children Division at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

"Instagram is all about sharing photos, making it a great fit to help quickly spread the word with critical information that could save a child's life. The ability to instantly share with your followers and amplify the reach of AMBER Alerts is going to have a major impact in the ability to bring missing children home."

Instagram AMBER Alerts have been created in partnership with the US National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), the UK National Crime Agency, the Attorney General's Office in Mexico, the Australian Federal Police and others. 

Instagram has been contacted for further comment.

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