Amber Alerts Less Effective in the Days of Online Social Networking

How do you respond when you see an Amber alert post on Facebook?

Do you feel concerned for the child and its parents, pass the message on to your friends, and keep a vigilant eye for any suspicious activity?

Or do you think “terrific. Probably another stupid hoax,” and roll on with your day without ever thinking about the alert again?

The catch is that you could be right either way. In the days of online social networking, it’s possible that a torrent of fake Amber alerts and other catastrophes have made us less sympathetic. Tools such as Facebook and Twitter can help the police get their message out to millions of people quickly, but how many of those people shrug and immediately forget about it immediately. Some of us even get frustrated when we see these messages online. False versions have become so rampant, that many users have started to assume that they are all fake.

Plus, there’s the possibility that the Facebook post about the Amber alert is accurate, but that the amber alert is, in itself, completely inaccurate, such as this instance told by Paula Simons at the Edmonton Journal.

Given the serious nature of Amber alerts (no matter how many fake ones you have seen, there is always the possibility that one is about a real child who needs help), every person has the responsibility to check the legitimacy of a post before passing it on. That’s all that it would take to limit the number of hoaxes that spread via Facebook. Limiting the number, would mean fewer cries of “wolf,” which would make the legitimate alerts more effective.

 

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~ by facebookhoaxes on July 30, 2011.

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