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    August 4, 2022
    Instagram Adds Amber Alerts to User Feeds
    Screenshot by Instagram


    In honor of Global Missing Children’s Day, Instagram is partnering with several organizations, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), to develop an Amber Alert Feature on its platform.¹ The traditional Amber Alert system sends emergency alert messages directly to your phone with a loud ringtone to notify individuals of missing children cases as soon as possible. As we progress in this digital age and after seeing Facebook’s success with the feature, Instagram strives to be a part of the solution. The in-app Amber Alert feature will immediately disrupt individuals’ scrolling and notify users with images, vital information, and additional resources. 


    Screenshot by Instagram


    Amber Alerts Evolve With New Technology


    Instagram’s Amber Alerts are more technologically advanced than traditional ones. According to Michelle DeLaune, CEO of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the alerts are based on a user’s proximity to the search area. Instagram will utilize location services and IP addresses to determine whether a user receives one, noting the city listed in the user’s profile. Amber Alerts will appear in user feeds and include photos of the missing child – a feature that, in DeLaune’s opinion, is imperative in locating missing children. 


    “By being able to distribute these pictures to individuals holding their phones, who are out at the bank, sitting in traffic, at work, or at a store, they now have a piece of information that may lead to the recovery of a child.”²


    Each Amber Alert will include a physical description of the missing child, the location of the abduction, and any relevant details about the case. Users can directly call authorities with the click of a button, saving valuable time in a dire situation.


    Screenshot by Instagram


    Instagram’s Reach Will Help Find Missing Children


    Instagram boasts various features, and now, among the plethora of messaging and video sharing tools, the platform’s newest one can save children’s lives. Meta’s team is confident that Instagram’s reach can play an important role in locating missing children.³ Emily Vacher, director of trust and safety, believes that the newfound partnership is a step in the right direction. 


    “In the old days, we put pictures of kids on milk cartons. Then there were flyers nailed to telephone poles. And then there were mailers sent out – there’d be a coupon, and on the other side, there’d be a picture of a missing child,” explained Vacher. “We’ve evolved as technology has evolved.”


    Meta has worked closely with law enforcement and child abduction experts to limit the spread of misinformation. The new feature is set to become available in over 25 countries.


    Written by: Shelby Martin & Kieara Rios

    Image design by: Candace Castillo & Sara Freyre