The search on social media
Our mission is to be a lifeline to missing people and their families left behind, and our publicity appeals play a big part in that. We have more than 180,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, where we share appeals for missing people every day, Monday-Friday.
We work quickly to get publicity out because we know that public awareness helps find people who are missing and make them safe. It gives hope to the family that something is being done. Members of the public reacting to our publicity and calling our helpline with information about sightings helps us, and the police, find missing people.
Sometimes members of the public contact us through social media asking us to retweet or share publicity appeals that we have not originated. We cannot act on these requests immediately because:
We have to check that the appeal is genuine and not a hoax (there have been cases of this in the past).
We have to check with both the police and family members of that missing person that it’s safe to proceed with publicity. Sometimes there may be reasons why doing publicity would be wrong and worse, publicity may put already vulnerable people at more risk e.g. someone fleeing years of domestic violence might see a newspaper appeal for themselves and feel driven ‘underground’.
We have to consider the situation of the missing person. Our aim is that if someone saw publicity of themselves they’d feel able to contact us in confidence for help. We consider how they would feel – reading about themselves. We also consider how hard it could be for someone who has been missing to then ‘walk back into their life’, knowing that publicity about them has been distributed throughout the local area or been featured in the national media. We don’t want to make it any harder.
Removing and blocking comments
Missing People reserves the right to remove, edit or move any posts without warning on any our social media channels if we consider them to be disrespectful to others. Making personal comments about someone which may be untrue may be illegal and comments will be removed without warning and the user blocked.
We are incredibly grateful to people who have joined the search by downloading our posters, or sharing our appeals, and as an organisation we have a responsibility to make sure that the information we share is accurate. It’s very important that the public trusts what we say and that means we publish only what we know to be true, not what we believe to be true. We need to make sure that any publicity; posters, media appeals, tweets, will help someone to safety. Trust in the organisation is dependent on getting this right.