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…


  • 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.


  • 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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