Free Online Resources For Finding Missing Persons Using Social Media

This is a first in a series of guest posts by Yogini. Detailing how to use Social Media to raise awareness for charitable causes. In the coming posts I will go into much more specific detail on tips and techniques used to do this.

Over the last 15 months, I have been using the Internet, specifically Social Media to raise awareness for my missing friend, Lilly Aramburo. Lilly  is a 23 year old mother of a 2 Y/O child who was last seen on June 1,2007.  If you wish to know more about her case, please visit my blog Justice In Miami. I took on the role of advocate/spokesperson for her family. She was my friend and I felt like I needed to do something to help. It has become a full-time occupation which I have taken on with much enthusiasm. You see, the main stream media has not been cooperative in telling Lilly’s story or at the very least, even displaying a picture of her on the local news. Sadly, that’s just one of the many obstacles faced by families of missing persons on a daily basis.

Today, I understand the struggle of these families. But it doesn’t make things any easier for them. Someone goes missing every 30 seconds and that’s a fact. The main stream media is not much (if any) help to missing or murdered persons which don’t fit a specific criteria. In addition to being ignored by the media, many families of missing persons run against the “Blue Wall” of justice, law enforcement agencies that refuse to do their jobs either due to corruption, inefficiency, laziness or lack of funds. Either way its inexcusable. The reality is that thousands of families go through this every day with no end in sight. I was forced to pursue alternate methods to get Lilly’s case heard. The police were not doing anything, the media wasn’t doing anything and time was passing. The only real viable medium available to me was/is the Internet. Thankfully, I work in the Social Media Industry, which was clearly an advantage.

I’d like to share these insights with you, in hopes that it will be of benefit for you in your search for your missing loved one. While embarking on your journey, it is important to focus on the actions at hand and not the end result. Creating awareness within Social Media is usually an incremental process and it will not provide instant gratification but with patience and perseverance it will provide results. It is very important to note that each of these sites have particular rules and norms and if you intend on generating positive awareness and inspiring others to help you in your search, you must make an effort to understand the dynamic of each community, participate and make friends. I also included some reference links with how to’s, and information on social media etiquette.

Some of these methods might seem pointless or redundant at times, but I assure you they posses the ability to spread your message farther than you ever thought. Within the Social Media space you have the opportunity of making real bonds with people interested in things just like you. And that goes along way. Yes, there is a lot of information here, yes it is very time consuming ,yes there are some rules, and yes it is effective and it works!



Things YOU can do to Raise Awareness RIGHT NOW

  • Registering and starting communities in sites like Ning and PBWiki.
  • Registering for microblogging sites like Twitter, Jaiku and Plurk.
  • Registering for video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
  • Creating Ads on Craigslist & other free online classifieds
  • Joining and taking part in Online Forums and groups like Mixx, Google Groups and  Yahoo Groups.
  • Creating and distributing Press Releases and Social Media Releases.
  • Plan on outreach by commenting on relevant Blogs and posting Blog link to get others help in raising awareness.
Each of these resources, networks and forums can be of tremendous help. To get started you must register an account with the services below. All you will need is an email address to start. I’d suggest creating a profiles and screen names  using the name of the missing person. (ie MissingLillyAramburo). You can customize each profile with pictures, videos, links and other relevant information regarding the missing person. On some of the sites like Facebook, you can even create a group or cause for others to join, share and contribute. This is extremely beneficial in raising awareness and promoting your message.


Social Media Networks


The great thing about Social Networks is that  many of these online community members share a common interest and are grouped as such. They are great place to get started. They are easy to sign up and easy to set up and customize. Once you are granted access to a social networking website you can begin to socialize by reading the profile pages of other members, finding groups to join and interacting with users. The friends that you can make are just one of the many benefits to social networking. It has very powerful viral qualities that will help to get your message out.

Social Networks can be used as a private journals, blogs, discussion forums, content distribution and network site. They allow you customize your profile page, network and get the word out. A good suggestion, is start by adding people you already know to build up some momentum.  Make sure to use “keywords” related  to the missing person within the profile pages so that they start appearing in the search engine results pages like Google , Yahoo and MSN.

With some of the Social Networks like Facebook and Care2, you can also create groups. Groups and Causes are theme centered pages which you can use to promote your message, share news and events with your community and start conversations, all in one place.

With these sites you can create your own network and community. You can invite others, and add tons of 3rd party widgets that allow you to easily add useful functions like embedded video of missing persons, scrolling missing persons feeds , missing persons news and more. You can also build a Squidoo Lens and promote it within your other social networks. It’s very easy, and they come out in the search results.

These are professional networking sites. Plaxo has an online contact management feature which  is very handy to share information and  links with your connections. Linkedin allows you to ask questions from professionals in any industry. You can ask questions to professionals in Non Profit sector or Marketing sector for ideas to get your message out. You would be surprised at how many useful answers you will get.

Friendfeed is an content aggregator and lifestreaming site. It gathers content from most of the top  social networks and displays in one convenient location where users can interact with it.

Using Social News Websites to Find Missing Persons

Below are some Social News sites. You can register for a free account and submit articles about your missing loved one. If you are just getting started, I highly suggest you take some time to look around the site and get to know how it works before you start submitting articles. Interact and  socialize with others by commenting relevant  and quality submissions. This is how you make friends and encourage conversations. However, submitting your own articles is not a good idea as they may get voted down or get you banned from the site.

Using Video Sharing Websites to Find Missing Persons

Video sharing sites assist in creating  awareness and buzz around your message. A tangible, visual/audio representation of your cause, and people love to see video. Register for a free account and you’re all set to upload videos.You can use videos to create pleas for help in finding your missing loved one, put out videos or slide-shows memorializing your missing loved ones, announcing any rewards or important information regarding the missing persons case. The important thing is to get your loved ones videos in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Once you upload the videos, it becomes very easy to embed the video on your blog, or to share the video across the myriad of social media sites like Facebook and Stumbleupon. Videos are also very effectively included in Press releases and Social Media releases.

Using Online Picture Sharing Sites to Help Find Missing Persons

Online Picture Sites are also a very effective way of getting your missing loved ones face and information out. There are several very good Missing Persons groups on Flickr, which allow you to upload pictures of your loved one, flyers, pictures of events, etc. Always make sure to include relevant information in the title, description and tags of each photo i.e. missing persons name, and variations of their name. remember someone might search for a different spelling , and never find you because your information never came up.

Using Online Microblogging Sites Like Twitter to Help Find Missing Persons

Microblogging sites are very helpful. You can update your status as much as you’d like with info about your missing loved one. These sites are a wonderful place to network, make friends with like minded interests and get the word out. Remember, the more you network and interact, the more likely you are to make friends. The more friends you make, the bigger your army is to help find your missing loved one.  As with the other sites, there is a social etiquette involved in your interactions with others, start by making friends at a reasonable rate, interact and create awareness about your cause. A good place to start is to follow with the @MissingChildren and @Yogini

Examples of active Missing Persons related social media sites

(Consider joining these if you have a missing loved one and need help!)

Resources

Some of these organizations can be of tremendous help. Most of them list missing persons on their website/blog.
National Center for Missing Adults – Listing of officially reported missing persons
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children- Listing of officially reported missing child
FDLE- Lists missing children/persons from Florida done through law enforcement

North America Missing Persons Bureau – Listing of officially reported missing persons

Listing of officially reported missing persons

Listings for missing persons who are US military veterans.

Help Find the Missing – Listing of officially reported missing persons.

The Outpost For Hope – Listing of unreported missing persons

America’s Most Wanted

The Charley Project – Listing cold cases of missing persons

Polly Klaas Foundation – Missing child recovery

Project Jason – Support for Families of the missing

CUE Center for Missing Persons – Great resource for families of the missing

Texas Equusearch- Search & Rescue Team

Submit a missing person to Homeless Nation

Search for Unidentified Persons

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System

The Doe Network – International Center for Unidentified & Missing Persons

Unidentified Decedent Reporting System

National Next Of Kin Registry

Online Classified Ads
Register for a free account and place ads in their community section.

You can create a free milk carton for your missing person. Here’s an example:

Missing Person/Crime Forums

Forums are a fantastic place to not only generate awareness within Missing Persons communities, but also to network with other like minded individuals who are going through the same Missing persons ordeal. An additional added value is embedding a link in your forum signatures to your main blog. Make sure you include the name of your missing relative in the link. This will help your rankings in Google and other search engines.

Local Forums

Create a Blog

Google Alerts

Sign up for Google Alerts – email updates of the latest Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. You can set up an alert of the persons name and relevant info.

Social Bookmarking

Bookmarks allow you to save your favorite sites and attach labels and annotations. Use bookmarking services to keep and store, organize and search your bookmarks. Bookmark everything that has to do with your loved one.

Hook up Google Reader to sign up for RSS feeds related to missing persons.

RSS is your friend. When used properly it will save you hours of time. The general idea is to subscribe to RSS feeds of Missing Persons related blogs, news and content. An easy way to do it, is by searching for terms within technorati or ice rocket and subscribing to them via Google Reader. This will provide real time updates to resources and information relevant to missing persons cause. Here are some How – to’s on using Google Reader.

Reference Information and Statistics about Missing Persons

Using DNA and other Resources to Identify Missing Persons


About.com – Info & statistics about the missing


Examples of the Power of Social Media

YouTube as a Crime Solving Tool

Family and friends turn to social networking site to solve crime

How To Get Started In Social Media

Social Media Video – Social Media Networking in Plain English


It is my sincere wish that this be able to help someone find their missing loved on. If this was useful, please let me know. I would love to hear from you.

Want to reprint this post?  Feel free to reprint headlines and excerpts with a link back to the post’s permalink. To reprint the entire post, contact me first.

11 Responses to Free Online Resources For Finding Missing Persons Using Social Media
  1. mammabear
    September 5, 2008 | 8:42 pm

    Yogini,

    THANK YOU! I know I will have to read this post at least one more time, in order to grasp all that you have just thrown out there! Twitter, Stumbleupon, Myspace, Friendfeed….
    I was just bumbling around, posting here and there, not really understanding the purpose of each network.
    I know I will use a lot of this information to help improve the way I post information for our missing.

    mammabear
    ~LostFaces~
    of the Missing

  2. dstudiobali
    September 6, 2008 | 11:51 am

    Innovative and complete list for making friend and find missing person

  3. Glendene Grant
    September 20, 2008 | 8:17 pm

    OH MY GOSH. Thank you so very much. Do you mind me reposting this tremendously important / informative information for myself and others with missing loved ones to take advantage of?
    God bless you and your search for your friend Lily…she is so lucky to have you in her corner.
    Sincerely Missing Jessie Foster’s mom Glendene Grant.

  4. Yogini
    September 27, 2008 | 11:51 am

    I am so glad you all find this post helpful! Stay tuned as I’m working on the follow up post with more information and should be available soon.

    Thanks again:-)

  5. Kleen
    October 28, 2008 | 4:28 pm

    Here is another missing child story that should remind everyone that Justice is often elusive. David Goldman has been fighting for 4 years to regain custody of his child who was abducted to Brazil by his former wife. His former wife died and her new husband, an influential “Family Law” attorney has violated Brazilian Federal visitation orders and is trying to have David’s name removed from his son’s birth certificate, erasing his paternity and citizenship.
    http://www.bringseanhome.org

  6. bam
    April 21, 2009 | 6:46 pm

    I understand the feelings of families with missing member or friends. Just keep the spirit up and don’t lose hope. There are reasons why these things happen and be positive enough. It may take several weeks, months or even years before you can locate a missing person.

    Many missing people, especially teenagers, may have run away from home of their own free will. There’s no harm looking for them as they may be too afraid or ashamed to come back. There is a possibility that the missing person choose to run away from home with their own and personal reasons.

    I found a search site that might help you. Please refer to this link.

    http://netrepreneur101.ws

    This site is a people search site. There is no guarantee that you can locate the person you are looking but there is no harm in trying.

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