This is a guest post by Sarah Willey. Follow her on Twitter @willey774.
For quite some time, police departments have been using social media to push out notifications about missing children. In January, Facebook set up 53 AMBER Alert pages — one for each of the 50 states, along with pages for the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Interested Facebook users can sign up for alerts pertinent to their individual states. The notifications appear on news feeds as they’re issued, and can also be shared with users’ Facebook friends.
Since going missing last week, friends, family, strangers and even celebrities have taken to Facebook and Twitter to help find Indiana University student Lauren Spierer. Lauren was last seen in the early morning hours of last Friday walking to her apartment. She had reportedly been at a bar Thursday night and then went to a friend’s party. Her keys were found blocks away from where she was last seen, but there’s no other sign of her.
News of the situation was immediately shot out across Facebook: 126,000 people have agreed to attend a Facebook event titled “URGENT! Please help spread the word about Lauren Spierer’s disappearance!” and a Facebook page, find.lauren, has been liked by more than 20,000 people so far.
In addition, 11,000 people have joined a group in her name and a Twitter feed @NewsOnLaurenS which as of right now has more than 12,000 followers. It’s been used to tweet updates, distribute a photo flier, organize search parties and promote a fund set up by the IU Hillel to support search efforts. Several big celebrities have sent out tweets to help the campaign.
I hope it pays for Lauren and her family so this nightmare her family is going can be over.