Sunday, June 26, 2011

Social Media and Missing Persons - #FindLauren

Yesterday evening on CNN we discussed #FindLaurenDay.  Lauren Spierer an IU student, went missing June 3rd and was last seen at 4:15am.  She has still not been found and there are little in new clues to her disappearance.  

Saturday, nearly 300 showed up in a search for Lauren in Bloomington, Indiana. But while many couldn’t physically be there they have lent their support digitally through the power of social media. 

There are a number of ways you can stay connected, donate funds to search efforts or just support finding Lauren:

  • Lauren has a Facebook page with over 30k members (though as of Saturday it appears down)
  • There is also a Twitter account @NewsOnLaurenS
  • You can also use the hashtag #FindLauren on Twitter
  • - a website for donations and information
  • Email Tip Account:
  • Anonymous hotline number for Americas Most Wanted 800-CRIME-TV

Social Media is critical in helping find missing persons.
Because we know time is of the essence outlets like Facebook and Twitter are fast, viral and efficient.

I spoke with Bob Lowry, Executive Director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an organization that has had people on the ground since Lauren went missing 3 weeks ago.  Bob shared some notable statistics.  Two thousand kids going missing every single day.  That’s nearly 800,000 every year.  (It is worth noting that these are all a variety of different cases from family abduction to runaways -- cases like Lauren rare- less than 1%.)

But given those statistics, 20 years ago the return rate in finding missing children was 63-64%.   Now, the return rate is at nearly 97%.  Bob attributes a lot of that to social media and 24 hour news coverage.  There are more resources than ever to disseminate information. 

What are the steps a parent can take if they think a child is missing?
Time is critical. And if you are ever faced with a predicament of this nature you don’t have to wait -- you can and should quickly take matters in to your own hands digitally (while simultaneously reaching out to law enforcement). 

If you aren’t tech savvy, turn to those that are.  Designate one or two people to quickly set up a Facebook and Twitter page and create a blog or website.  (You can use a free blog site like Tumblr, Wordpress or Blogger)  Centralized pages are key because while its great that people want to help often times what happens is there can be a multitude of pages whereas its much more efficient to have one source to push all flyers, press and inquiries to -- just make sure it stays updated.  Also, since search operations can often go in to months and can strap family members monetarily, websites and blogs are key for raising funds.
Twenty years ago we relied on milk cartons.  Now we can take matters in to our own hands with the bevy of digital resources.

If you have any information on Lauren please use the above appropriate resources. 

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