A child goes missing every 40 seconds in the U.S, over 2,100 per day. That’s a large number of kids, of course the numbers can be adjusted based on family abductions, runaways and even with the number of kids that return safely home. But the numbers are alarming anyway and as a parent, that scares me. Today I was reading through my morning Facebook feed and saw a friends update sharing a link to a popular local blog story about a missing teen from the area.

Stephanie Cudd from Pacheco went missing on Nov. 28th and hasn’t been heard from since. First indications from what I read was that she ran away. No telling why but that was the assessment of the site and some of the comments. The strange thing was that no one had heard from her. Her boyfriend and his family who sound like they were very close with Stephanie were the most vocal about her being missing. She could just be a runaway but common sense would say that someone close to her would have come forward by now just to calm the firestorm online.

I don’t know Stephanie Cudd or her family but I saw how troubled they were with her being missing and I felt compelled to do something. I figured social media would be a great way to spread the word about her being missing and generate some support. So I took to Facebook and created a Facebook page.

http://easycaptures.com/fs/uploaded/536/5265086103.jpg

I made a few posts on Facebook walls of local news stations and then let the community do the rest. I honestly did not expect the reaction to the page to be as great as it has been so far. In a matter of hours we had over hundred fans on the page and they were reposting the missing poster on their Facebook walls.  At the time of this post there are 256 fans to the page and growing every minute. We even have people from as far away as Australia spreading the story around.

What I didn’t expect at all was the Trolls that infected the site. Between the time I left the office and when I picked up the little man, there were dozens of inflammatory posts and even some photoshopped images that I wont detail. I know the internet is full of people with bad intent but I had no idea a Facebook page about a missing teenager would be victim.

It took a few minutes but after adding a few admins the page was cleaned up and the people were banned from the page. It’s just a shame that this even has to be done.

Lessons learned. Facebook is a wonderful platform for spreading the word about a missing person but make sure that you have plans in place to deal with trolls.

Stephanie Cudd has been missing since 11/28/2010. Her family and friends are worried and we need your help to bring her home and let her loved ones know she is alright.

If anyone has any information on her location, they can contact the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department at 925-646-2441, case # 10-21998.

Website: http://www.findstephaniecudd.com
Much thanks to everyone who has shared this story on Facebook and in their blogs. I am sure that Stephanie’s family and friends are happy to know there is so much support to find her safe. And Stephanie, if you read this, just let someone know that you are safe.
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7 Responses to Using Social Media to Help Missing Persons

  1. Berrylite26 says:

    EXCELLENT article. Thank you for shedding much needed light on issues with Trolls in social media, the work that Facebook needs to do to help circumvent the predators. Thank you for writing about Stephanie Cudd and an even more important message: missing teens. As the economy, peer pressure and teen issues continue to escalate in this age, I fear we will see more and more of these incidences as stress at socially and at home are sure to increase as well. Parents need to work together to help nurture our children at every turn and learn to effectively communicate. The community needs to educate and prepare for this continuing and growing crisis. Thank you for writing this article!!

  2. Koka Sexton says:

    You are very welcome. Its not often that I find an opportunity to help people in this way and I’m glad that there has been such a great response to the page. I hope that Stephanie is just hiding out somewhere and comes to her senses soon. It’s obvious that she is loved and people are worrying about her.

  3. Lloyd Ellis says:

    I just want to thank you Koda for your time and effort. Eva Nichols, the boyfriends mother, is a very long time friend of mine. After I chat with her I knew that something needed to be done. I know if my child left and didn’t say anything I would be worried sick. You are a good person. Thank You.

  4. Bilal Ahmad says:

    This is very good idea. Facebook is really a very useful place which can used for different good purposes.

  5. Rachel Freeman says:

    I run a facebook page for missing uk children http://www.facebook.com/pages/Missing-Children-Rapid-Alert/140172216032399 there is great need for such a page to be run in the US, if anyone would like to become an admin I am happy to start one up, feel free to have a look at my page and give me feedback thanks, facebook goes into more homes than newspapers and tc so it’s a fabulous opportunity to get word out and get people helping.

    Rachel

  6. Amelia says:

    The internet seems to be full of people with bad intent – but most of them are anonymous (I’m surprised that you’d get trouble on Facebook). It’s great to be able to do something yourself, even if you don’t know the family.

  7. e.caro says:

    thank you for bringing attention to stephanie’s dissapearance, she is my niece and the family is devastated. if only we had a little bit of info on where she is. no one is mad at her we just want her back home where she belongs. again, thank you.

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About The Author

Koka Sexton

I'm Koka Sexton. Currently working at an awesome place called LinkedIn where I am developing the social marketing process. I am also a keynote speaker talking about social marketing and social selling.