Finding a Lost Child with Facebook

I thought I’d lost my Mary the other day.  She’d been taking an inordinately long time in a busy gas-station  restroom at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. When I went to see if she was OK, she wasn’t there. I couldn’t find her in the store, either.  Luckily I found her crying outside, looking for us (we’d parked the car after buying gas) but for a moment there it felt like my heart was going to fall out.

Some time ago, my friend’s child really was lost. The help we had from online leads made a big difference.  I hope none of you will ever have to deal with this problem, but if you found this page because you need help, here’s what to do. First…

BEFORE YOU SET UP A FACEBOOK PAGE:

  • Immediately call the local police.
  • The primary caregiver should call 1-800-THE-LOST
  • Create a Google Voice number; have leads call or text that. This keeps your personal number more private and allows you to direct to other phones as needed.
  • Know that people are gonna volunteer in droves, but often all at once. If you get a few super dedicated people, try to schedule them as leaders in shifts they can handle.

Now for the online stuff:

I had noticed one of the big pitfalls of setting up a “LOST” photo on Facebook is that people will keep sharing it over and over again, long after the child has been found.  Setting up a page solves this.  It also keeps the information a bit more central, which gives you more control over what information is kept public after the ordeal is over.

SETTING UP A LOST CHILD FACEBOOK PAGE:

  • Create a page (here’s how)
  • Create your “Lost” photo. (This site makes it easy)
  • Set that photo as the profile picture for the page
  • Instead of a header image, write up current instructions / requests and post those as a header photo.  Later, you can swap this out for a “Thank You” note.
  • Start sharing the page. Ask others to do the same. Anyone who wants to follow the issue can “like” the page to receive updates.
  • Add updates frequently
  • Make sure those who will need to update the page have access to do so by adding them as page admins

From there, we used other online tools, like a public spreadsheet through Google Drive, to list the places searchers had checked.

If you have other tried-and-true tips, feel free to share them here.

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