You see a post on Facebook or Twitter from someone you interact with online. They’re not a close friend, family member or someone you work with.
It’s someone you met through Twitter, an online game, or they belong to one of your Facebook groups, but you’ve never met them in person.
They’re saying their wife or son is missing. Could you let them know if you see their missing family member?
What do you do?
Do Your Homework
If you’re on social media, it may seem natural to quickly spread the news or share the post. You want to help others and social media makes it easy.
But do you have all the facts?
As Kimberley Chapman points out in Be Careful About “Missing Person Posts”:
It’s one thing to circulate a current Amber Alert, ensuring that all of the information is there, that it comes from a proper source (ie don’t just reshare, CHECK THE LINKS), and that the answer is to call police, not just a random number.
And be sure to update your post when the issue is resolved.
But when someone you don’t know personally asks you to contact them about their missing family member, and they don’t provide:
and they ask you not to call police, think twice.
You may not know the full back story.
The family member may have escaped an abusive relationship. Or they may have changed their identity and left the area.
Is the person really missing?
Always check the story. Follow up on any links provided.
You want to share posts from police looking for abducted or missing persons.
If you see the person or know something about someone who is missing or abducted, always call the police.
Be suspicious of posts about a missing person with no mention of date or location.
Rather than spreading the information, contact the police. It may be a legitimate request, but always contact the police to confirm.