If you are a frequent Facebook user then you must have come across a page created for searching Arwa Korakiwala; a 5 year old, which went missing from her school in Santacruz on Saturday. Thousands of users on Facebook have liked this search page and have also posted the same on their walls. This is not the first time that netizens are coming together for a social cause. Thousands of people created awareness and shared Arwa’s family member’s details so that they could be contacted in case Arwa was found. Increasing number of re-tweets only indicates people’s concern over the issue.
A report in Indian Express dated 10th Jan 2012 stated that ‘by Monday evening, more than 13, 157 users on Facebook had liked the page and more than 1, 76,730 had shared it. Moreover on Tuesday morning I noticed that the number of likes increased to 17,000+ and was shared more than 2,00,000+ times!! That’s a humongous number!! This is not the first instance where social media has been used to create awareness and help in tracing the missing children. Few months ago, social networking sites saw flurry of wall posts and likes for karnit Shah, a five year old boy who went missing from Kandivali, Mumbai. Karnit was later found in Uttar Pradesh and was successfully re-united with his family.
The above two instances are definitely eye openers for social media critics. These instances prove that social media is an extremely powerful tool; provided one leverages its potential aptly. If used diligently, Social media pages can prove to be of great help in tracing the missing people. One must however be cautious of the fact that the social media search should not be endless. Parents/ Relatives or social networking page administrators must take appropriate steps in informing the netizens that the missing person has been found. One can also consider, deleting the page dedicated to search the missing person, once the person has been found and netizens have been notified. This will go a long way in preventing chaos and confusions.
One simply cannot ignore the role played by social media in tracing the missing people. This is just the start. Over a period of time, Social media will definitely play a larger role in handling the social issues.