Since AMBER Alerts on Facebook was launched locally with the Australian Federal Police in 2017, everyday heroes across the world have found missing children in their communities after seeing targeted Facebook notifications.
With the recent recognition of Global Missing Children’s Day, Meta is bringing AMBER Alerts to Instagram for the first time ever, in over 25 countries including Australia. This feature was developed in partnership with organizations across the globe and locally.
This extension of the service means that alerts will now show up on a visual-first platform and reach more teens themselves with the alerts than ever before.
The alerts, which will be available in Australia and two dozen other countries, will include details about the missing child, such as a photo, description, and location of the suspected abduction.
It is designed to be shared with friends on the platform to further spread awareness.
Instagram’s parent company, Meta, announced the new feature on Wednesday.
“We know that the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the first few hours,” Emily Vacher, the director of trust and safety at Meta said.
“With this update, 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 alerts are “rare and specific to the search area,” Vacher added, saying that if a user received one, “it means there is an active search for a missing child nearby”.
Facebook launched Amber alerts on its namesake platform in 2015.
To target the alerts, Instagram said it would use the city listed on a user’s profile as well as the user’s IP address and location services (if the user has this feature turned on).
The update was developed in partnership with organisations including the Australian Federal Police, according to Vacher.
“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,” Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO at the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, said in a statement accompanying Meta’s announcement.