Impacts of Social Media on Missing Persons Cases

Misery and mystery can linger in missing person cases. To many, it may seem like there’s been a rise in missing person cases, and some even say you can thank social media for that.

Reporter Mandy McQueen sat down with Crimestoppers to see if the numbers are, in fact, higher and what role social media plays.

“Missing person cases have always been there, of course, but due to social media, the cases are more widespread,” Ray Wagner, Director of Relations said.

Wagner, who has years of experience in law enforcement and is now working with Central Alabama Crimestoppers, told us there isn’t exactly a rise in missing person cases like some may think: “Basically, Ican’t say a number, but it’s just social media has increased in numbers.”

Social media has its pros and cons for law enforcement: A source where users can find information fast and also spread it fast: “It can help us of course to get your loved one home, but it can hinder us by giving false leads– every lead law enforcement tries to follow up on. If it’s a bad lead, that’s a lead that could have gone somewhere else… or the resources we could have used somewhere else.”

When someone is missing, time is of the essence: “The sooner the better. The sooner you notify us, as in law enforcement, the sooner we can start looking for your loved one to get them back home.”

Crimestoppers has received 179 calls about missing persons cases since January. That’s not including the high profile case of missing 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard.


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