BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Since Aniah Blanchard’s appearance on October 23, hundreds of tips were submitted to law enforcement. WBRC also got reports of people sending videos of psychics and other opinions to Blanchard’s family causing more harm than good.
The search for Blanchard continued to captivate the country and some may say social media played a major part in getting the word out. However, while social media can be extremely helpful in missing persons cases it can also do harm, according to a social media professional Maree Jones who said most people have good intentions.
“When they connect with others from these groups, online forums, chats they think the are getting to the bottom of whatever the truth is,” said Jones.
But Jones, with more than a decade of experience as a social media strategist, said finding out the truth is not as easy as reading comments and interacting online.
“Even though there are good intentions, you end up causing pain and confusion and a lot of that misinformation can hinder what police or investigators are actually trying to do,” said Jones.
The spread of misinformation and opinions can not only hinder a case it can also cause more emotional distress for family members.
“There are numerous cases around the U.S where police units have responded on social media saying please stop sharing information or please only share information from a credible source. Because, misinformation can spread like wildfire,” said Jones.
Jones added there are several questions you should ask yourself before posting or sharing information online.
“Is this fact? Is this opinion? Is this helpful? Is this hurtful? These are all internal questions that you have to ask yourself before you hit share or tweet,” said Jones.
Jones warned sharing information can be helpful but if you believe you have a tip that can lead to finding Aniah, call police before you post about it online.
If you have any information on where Aniah Blanchard could be call Crime Stoppers at 215 Stop or submit an anonymous tip online.