Social media is a powerful communication tool, and can assist to raise immediate attention and awareness of missing person cases in the community.
Prior to starting a social media campaign, it is important to discuss any plans with police responsible for the investigation.
Public access to information
Information shared in the public domain is freely accessible and generally open for public commentary. Because anyone may access public information, be prepared that posts may attract negative attention, and in some cases this can have a long-term or even permanent impact on family and friends as a result of the negative comments.
Public information is also difficult to control. Once information is on the internet it can be freely shared and used by others. If and when your loved one returns, it can be difficult to remove information completely from the public domain.
Sharing identifying details or updates about the case may also compromise the investigation or alert perpetrators to potential police activity or enquiries. It is important that police responsible for the investigation of the missing person are kept fully informed of all the social media interaction and activity.
Police may ask you to suspend all social media and public posts activity on behalf of police. It is vital to work together with police in order to minimise any negative influences, impacting on police investigations.
Ensuring information is appropriately responded to and investigated
If you are reaching out for information to be provided from the public, or sent directly to your social media campaign pages, or direct to personal or private contact numbers, it can be difficult to ensure that information is appropriately responded to and investigated.
It is recommended that all information regarding missing person cases be directed to Crime Stoppers Victoria or to the police officers investigating the case.
Long term commitment
Starting up a social media campaign is a long term commitment. Consider sharing or passing the responsibility for monitoring social media sites to a friend or relative.
While it is great to have community support and many people helping you search for your loved one, be aware that people who join your campaign will be eager for news. You may get regular emails from people requesting updates and new information which can be distressing if there is no new information for a long period of time.