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Missing children alerts are coming to your Instagram feed

You’ll soon see missing children alerts on your Instagram feed. The popular photo and video sharing app from Meta is rolling out a new Amber Alerts functionality starting today.

On Wednesday, Instagram announced it is rolling out Amber Alerts to its app. An Amber Alert is a child abduction emergency alert message that is broadcast to request the public’s assistance in locating a missing or abducted child. Instagram will now help distribute these alerts by allowing them to appear in users’ Instagram feeds.

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Three Instagram mobile app screenshots showing Instagram's new AMBER Alerts feature.

Instagram’s new Amber Alerts functionality means that you will be able to view these alerts in your feed, share the alerts with others, and, according to a screenshot of the feature, contact law enforcement to report a sighting of the missing child mentioned in the alert. The Amber Alerts themselves will also include a photo of the missing child, a description, and other information related to the abduction, such as the location.

According to Instagram’s announcement, receiving one of these alerts indicates that the search for the child is active near you because the alerts are only sent to users within the search area. So it’s based on your location, which for Instagram includes using “a variety of signals, including the city you list on your profile, your IP address, and location services (if you have it turned on).”

Amber Alerts will begin rolling out to users today and is expected to be “fully available” to users in 25 countries over the next few weeks. These countries 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 U.K., the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S.

This isn’t the first time a Meta-owned social media app has distributed Amber alerts: The alerts have been distributed on Facebook since 2015.

The new Amber Alerts feature on Instagram was developed in partnership with a number of organizations, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The President and CEO of the center, Michelle DeLaune, issued her own statement regarding the newly launched feature:

“Instagram is a platform based on the power of photos, making it a perfect fit for the Amber Alert program. 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.”

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