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Instagram's Newest Feature Could Save the Lives of Thousands of Children

The social media platform is partnering with Amber Alerts to feature in-feed integration of information to users.

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The power of social media is that it allows us to spread breaking, important and interesting information with the power of one click — for better or for worse.

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Instagram, which is often criticized for having filters and other photo-editing tools that breed unrealistic beauty standards for the masses, is harnessing that power for good in a potentially life-saving way thanks to its newest update.

The app will now feature Amber Alerts directly on users' feeds, and users can also share the notices to their followers via direct messages.

Amber Alert stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response plan, and it allows authorities to release information about child abductions as quickly as possible to the masses in the surrounding areas in hopes of finding and saving the missing child or children.

As of May 1, 2022, 1,114 children have been recovered through the use of the Amber Alert system, which launched in 1996.

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The way Instagram's integration will work will be similar to the Amber Alert feature that appears on users' iPhones when they are located in a certain area. Instagram users whose phones are located in a designated search area when law enforcement releases an Amber Alert will see the alert on their Instagram feed as soon as the alert is initiated.

Instagram said it would also take into account what users list their current city as on their profiles if location services are turned off.

"Instagram is a platform based on the power of photos, making it a perfect fit for the AMBER Alert program," Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said 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."

The alert will feature a photo of the missing child and details about the abduction, a smart move for the app given that the alert will look different than the typical feed posts that most users see, something that is sure to grab their attention in a jarring way.

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Instagram, which is a part of Meta, will join sister company Facebook in posting these Amber Alerts — Facebook has been posting them since 2015.

The new rollout began in the U.S. on June 1 and is expected to reach 25 countries globally total in "the coming weeks," including Mexico, the U.K., Canada and Ukraine.

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