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Instagram will show users Amber Alerts for missing children

The service uses location data collected by Instagram to determine who should get the alert.
Credit: Associated Press
This Friday, Aug. 23, 2019 photo shows the Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device in New York. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, file)

WASHINGTON — If you launch Instagram today, you may see something different at the top of your feed: the photo of a missing child. 

Instagram will now be sharing information about local Amber Alerts with users, in a partnership with several organizations dedicated to finding and rescuing missing children. 

The alerts will include important details about a missing child, including a photo of them, a physical description and any other available information, such as where they were abducted from. 

Instagram said in a blog post that the alerts would be "rare and specific to the search area." The company says if you get an Amber Alert through Instagram, there is an active search near you for the missing child. 

The company uses data such as the city listed in a user's profile, their IP address and location services (if turned on) to determine who should get an alert. 

Instagram's parent company, META, made the announcement Wednesday. It comes on the back of a similar program launched in 2015 for Facebook. 

Amber Alerts are issued by law enforcement officials when they believe a child has been abducted, and have been credited with saving hundreds of lives. They allow people who see the alerts to help monitor for any missing child or their abductor. 

The feature is now available on Instagram in the U.S. and is expected to roll out to 24 more countries in the coming weeks. 

The feature, according to META, was developed alongside the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and several other sister agencies across the world. 

“Instagram is a platform based on the power of photos, making it a perfect fit for the AMBER Alert program,” said Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, in a statement. “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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