Instagram Amber Alerts – What Are They And How Are They Helpful?
A lot has been written about how irresponsible some people think social media platforms can be. People say that social media pushes dangerous content onto its users, that it can be addictive and isn’t doing enough to curb that addiction, or that it promotes misinformation and fake news. Obviously, these aren’t accusations social media companies want hovering over their heads, and so they’re introducing new social responsibility initiatives all the time.
The newest initiative of this kind is Instagram’s Amber Alert system, which was initially introduced back in June this year and which is still rolling out in various countries around the world. You might have heard of the Amber Alert system; it’s something that Facebook has been doing for a while, after all, and since both platforms are owned by the same company, it makes sense for Amber Alerts to come to Instagram as well. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what Amber Alerts are and what they mean for you.
So, what are Instagram Amber Alerts?
As per the official Instagram blog, Amber Alerts will allow you to see notices of missing children in your area and share them with your own followers. Instagram is hoping that by using its extended social media network, it’ll be able to help parents be reunited with their missing children, or at the very least to get the word out so that others can help to find them.
Does this initiative involve any missing children organisations?
In order to develop the Amber Alert initiative, Instagram says it’s worked closely with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States, as well as its sister organisation that covers the same subject worldwide. Other organisations consulted during the Amber Alert initiative’s development include the UK’s National Crime Agency, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, and the Australian Federal Police, as well as other national and international organisations.
How does it work?
If the Amber Alert initiative gets rolled out in your area, then when law enforcement declares an Amber Alert, you should see it within your Instagram feed if you’re in the search area for the missing child. The alert will include key information about the child, including a photograph, their last known whereabouts, a description of them, and any other information the law enforcement agency happens to have at that time. You’ll also be able to share Amber Alerts with your friends so that they can help to search.
How likely are you to see an Amber Alert on Instagram?
According to Instagram, Amber Alerts are pretty rare, so it’s fairly unlikely you’ll see one pop up in your feed. If you do, then you’re in the middle of an active search area for a missing child, so if it’s possible for you to participate in any way – i.e. if you have any information about the missing child – then you should definitely volunteer to do so as soon as possible.
How does Instagram know which alerts to send?
Instagram uses a variety of information to send you Amber Alert notifications. Methods might include using your location if you have it turned on, as well as using the city you’ve listed as your residence in your profile and using your IP address. If you don’t have location services turned on, then Instagram naturally can’t use that information to send you a notification, but it may still use the other kinds of info, so just be aware that you might receive a notification of this kind.
What countries are Amber Alerts available in?
Amber Alerts are available in a total of 25 countries right now, and Instagram is looking to introduce more in the future. Here are the countries in which Amber Alert notifications are currently available.
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
According to Instagram, the service is “working to expand” and bring Amber Alerts to more countries, so if you don’t see your home country listed, you may be getting Amber Alerts in the future. Stay tuned to the official Instagram social media presences to hear more.
Do Amber Alerts work?
Again, according to Instagram, Amber Alerts can work to help find missing children if they’re disseminated on social media. Instagram gives the example of Charlotte Moccia of Massachusetts, who was rescued by (among others) a couple who saw an Amber Alert on Facebook back in 2020. Another example is that of Kaytlin Brown, who helped to rescue a four-year-old girl after seeing an Amber Alert on Facebook during her lunch break.
Of course, the chances that you will see one of these alerts and have exactly the knowledge required to help in the rescue are fairly slim, but it’s a great way for Instagram and Facebook to help get the word out and support local communities.
Do other social media platforms have features like this?
As we’ve said, Facebook has a similar system to the one being rolled out on Instagram, which makes sense given they have the same parent company. There are various Twitter profiles dedicated to helping people find missing kids, including the UK-based Child Rescue Alerts and UK Missing Persons Unit profiles. Given the nature of TikTok, it’s tougher for that platform to play host to initiatives like this one, but the platform has been indirectly involved in helping missing children be found.