2.Oct – { On the Wall: Views from a Social Media Gadfly } with Gabriel Owens: “Have You Seen Me?”

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You know, I don’t have anything against forwarding pictures of missing children, in theory.  One of the great tools and powers of social media is the ability to spread info like that at an amazing speed.

But let’s be real here:  most of the ones you mindlessly are forwarding on Facebook are old, out of date, and some are outright hoaxes.   Sadly, sometimes the child is dead.  And occasionally, it’s actually a real, active missing child.

Look, it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to Google the name of the kid and see what it says.  Sometimes you can follow the post back to the original page (usually a parent or family member) and see if it’s still active.  Sometimes all the above yields zero results and probably means it was made up.

“So what the hell am I hurting, you hater of missing children you?” you ask.  Well, I’ll tell you.  First of all, if the kid’s already been found, you’re perpetuating the parents/family with bombardments of well wishes and questions long after the situation’s been resolved.  They are probably looking to move on from a troubling event.

And then there’s emotional currency you are robbing from your friends list.  Many people are empathetic and sensitive to these things, and now you got them worried.  Maybe for a few minutes, maybe they stay up all night about it.  You’ve robbed them of emotion over someone no longer missing or possibly didn’t exist.

So how to tell the real ones from the old/fakes?  First of all, let’s weed out the questionable/hoaxes.  A missing child picture should have a clear photo, the name, last place and date time seen, etc.  And more than likely, a phone number to call with information.  Anything missing this vital information is suspect.  Still, you can Google or if possible, or follow the link back.  More often than not though, these types are screen grabbed from an fb post or are scans of something.  If you can’t get anything on this name to pop up on the Google’s other than links back to this very same story, chances are it’s a fake.

Same goes for the resolved.  Google will usually pop up a new article or blog stating they were found.  There’s lots of websites that do track these things just for this purpose.  And again, backtracking to the OP’s Facebook if possible will have the BEST info on it.  It really, really does not take long.  Then, you can be the bearer of good news for your concerned friend who blindly reposted it and post the link to them.

If it all checks out, feel free to repost.  Even if it’s in Oklahoma and you and all your friends are in Australia.  Can’t hurt, right?

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