A few days ago, I saw a post on Reddit in the You Should Know subreddit, about why you should not share missing person photos/posts on social media (particularly Facebook). The rationale was that this could inadvertently expose someone in hiding to someone who really shouldn’t know where they are. There was debate in the thread, with the most rational supplemental comment being “if you recognize the person (or people) in the photo, don’t contact the person who originally SHARED the image, but contact local police.
I asked a friend of mine who has studied criminology, and thus would have a better understanding of the sensitivity of the issue, and he said since the original post was deleted, he couldn’t really make a judgement.
Then Facebook came to the rescue, in that a friend of mine posted a perfect example of this concept in action:
The story on Facebook was very touching. A father published a photo of his missing children and asked for help finding them. And thousands helped sharing the post and finally one person recognized the children and let him know where to find them.
The missing information was that the woman was living under protection and with a new identity after leaving the man. Now he found out where she was. She was forced to move again – to a women’s shelter.
“The worst case scenario is that you contribute to someone being beaten, raped or killed. You have to think twice before sharing this type of searches for missing people on Facebook”, says Lotta Sonemalm, at The Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres , (SKR).
I held off on posting this before, because I didn’t feel I had a sufficient backing resource to justify posting and possibly misinforming people (that’s the opposite of what I want to do), but now that I have this, I’m glad to be able to post it so we can learn from the situation.
So, before you share that next missing person alert on facebook, PLEASE make sure to tag or identify it that people should contact police with any information they might have, not the original poster!