Instagram has launched Amber Alerts, a feature to notify users of missing children in their localities.
The video-sharing platform announced the rollout of the feature in a statement via its blog on Wednesday.
The alerts will be available in the United States and two dozen other countries.
Instagram is an American photo and video sharing social networking service founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and later acquired by Facebook Inc. The app allows users to upload media that can be edited with filters and organized by hashtags and geographical tagging. Posts can be shared publicly or with preapproved followers. Users can browse other users’ content by tag and location, view trending content, like photos, and follow other users to add their content to a personal feed.
Instagram was originally distinguished by allowing content to be framed only in a square (1:1) aspect ratio of 640 pixels to match the display width of the iPhone at the time. In 2015, these restrictions were eased with an increase to 1080 pixels. It also added messaging features, the ability to include multiple images or videos in a single post and a Stories feature—similar to its main competitor Snapchat—which allowed users to post their content to a sequential feed, with each post accessible to others for 24 hours. As of January 2019, Stories is used by 500 million people daily.
Instagram said it will include details about the missing child, such as a photo, description, and location of the suspected abduction.
It said the feature is designed to be shared with friends on the platform to further spread awareness.
Speaking about the feature, Emily Vacher, the director of trust and safety at Meta, Instagram’s parent company, said the alerts will be specific to the search area.
She said if a user gets one, it means there is an active search for a missing child nearby.
“We know that the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the first few hours,” Vacher 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 feature is expected to start rolling out on Wednesday.
It is understood that it will be fully available in the next couple of weeks in 25 countries including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, and Ireland.
Others are Jamaica, Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa, Taiwan, Ukraine, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, and the US.
Google also began issuing similar alerts to users of its Search and Maps tools in 2012.
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