First, please allow me to apologize for the click bait headline. Hopefully after you read what I post you’ll see that it was necessary.
Facebook has replaced the milk carton when it comes to disseminating information about a missing child. I’m sure many of us have shared the image of a missing child on Facebook hoping that our post will help find them, but are we doing more harm than good?
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently issued a warning to Facebook users that sharing a missing child post on Facebook may actually put the child in danger. According to the RCMP the child may be hiding for their own safety. By posting the image of a missing child we could be unwittingly returning a child into the hands of an abuser.
That’s not to say we should stop sharing all images of missing children on Facebook, however we should consider the source of the missing declarations. Much like the false accusations that have been posted on Facebook that have ruined people’s lives, a number of missing children posts come from unverified sources. Besides police and media sources, you can always check the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as they have an extensive database of a number of the country’s missing children.
When it comes to sharing information like this on Facebook we need to stop for a moment and use our heads instead of reacting purely from the heart. That moment could go a long way in keeping someone safe.
UPDATE: Something that I forgot to add, but a Facebook friend reminded me of, is that sometimes these missing child posts can be severely out of date as well. When something gets shared on Facebook, it can sometimes be reposted years after the original post. For example, while it’s not a missing child post, this Facebook post is still circulating two years after its original posting with people still believing it even though there are no sources to verify it.