Last night my Facebook feed was bombarded with news of an Amber Alert for a kidnapped baby in Quebec. The news stories that were online suggested that a woman posed as a nurse and had kidnapped a 1 day old infant at the hospital in Trois-Rivières. The police even had a car description and a photo from hospital surveillance videos that they blasted across Facebook and Twitter. Miles away from the hospital, even my own friends shared the news on their walls to get the story out and support these heartbroken parents.
I shared this post on Facebook (I had 3 friends share it as well);
About an hour later, I again shared the news that little Victoria had been found;
The baby's mother, Mélissa, believes the sharing of photos and information on social media helped to find her day-old baby hours after the abduction. While police and hospital staff were searching for little Victoria, her mother, Mélissa McMahon, took to social media. Sgt. Martine Asselin with provincial police said that many people were contacting police with tips after the Amber Alert went out online. In fact, it was four young adults who say that they saw the Amber Alert on Facebook, and later recognized a woman fitting the suspect's description. "The media really helped us put out the picture and the description fast. We could see on the TV, on the media, on Facebook, everything we needed and very fast… the public was able to call us and give us information," said Asselin.
This story is an example of how both technology and social media networks can speed up the time in which it takes to communicate an important news message. While this baby may have been found without Facebook, both the police and the infant's mother are indebted to the online community for their support in getting the information out to the public.
What do you think? Is social media a positive tool for important stories like this one or just for personal connections?
Family photo from Facebook