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Sharing calls to action is part of what social media is all about. (Facebook, in particular, feels like the modern day chain letter, more often than not.) However, there are some statuses you should think twice about before sharing, such as a missing child post.
While it may feel like you’re doing good by sharing a missing child PSA, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police warns that you might actually be endangering a child’s safety. If two parents have split, for example, and the court forbade one parent from seeing her child, sharing information about the child’s current whereabouts could put the child in danger. (76% of child abductions are committed by a relative or acquaintance of the victim.) And then there’s the oddball chance that the missing child may not even exist at all, as one incident in 2014 proved.
The Kindersley RCMP explains more in its Facebook post below.
SHARING Missing people on Facebook - sometimes the missing children in the posts that you share are not actually...Posted by Kindersley RCMP on Monday, March 6, 2017
For legitimate cases, however, Facebook can be a powerful tool in successfully getting a missing person home. In 2014, a young woman named Isabel Castillo disappeared, and authorities feared she’d become a victim of sex trafficking. In fact, Castillo ran away after an argument with her aunt. After seeing the anxiety her disappearance stirred up on social media, she contacted her family and let them know she was safe. In another case, a woman in Louisiana recognized a missing Florida teenager thanks to a post shared by media personality Nancy Grace.
If you come across a post for a missing child, check the source. Is it from an individual, or from a legitimate organization? Posts originating from Amber Alert, a verified Missing Persons organization, or a local (ideally verified) police department page such as the SFPD can likely be trusted and shared. Posts from an individual should be fact-checked and corroborated with area law enforcement before you tap that share button.
Clearly, social media can be an excellent source for spreading awareness of a missing child. It’s just important to verify that a post is legit, first.
H/T Huffington Post
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.