On social media we are messaged daily asking us to share our underwear colour or where we keep our handbag for “awareness” and there are endless appeals for missing people, supporting charities and quizzes to complete. I very rarely share things like this and when I do I am very selective and here is why I am so cautious.
Is the person truly missing?
I only ever share missing person appeals if I know the individual personally or from the police force website or their social media account.
This may sound like I am being picky and could be not helping during those vital first minutes/hours however there are reasons behind this. If a person is truly missing the police will appeal.
A missing child post by a desperate parent, asking our help get that child back. What if someone has had their children taken into local authority or social services care for their child’s safety? They could be claiming they are missing in order to try to find their location and take them back?
Whilst there are I appreciate circumstances where the authorities get it wrong and children are wrongly taken into local authority care, to me, the safety of the children is paramount and if the police are not sharing it how do we know it is not a situation like this?
Missing Adults or long lost family requests
A missing old friend/former partner/adult relation is missing I should help them reunite? While sometimes these cases are, I would always say that they should be aiming at the person contacting them rather than if anyone knows their whereabouts please let me know type posts. If you know the whereabouts of this adult let them know about the post, don’t divulge their location without asking them first.
I appreciate this probably sounds picky but imagine if you have been a victim of violence or abuse whether it be from a partner, family, or a bully elsewhere? You may have moved away to be safe and then the abuser posts an appeal post and a well-meaning individual reveals your location.
There could be safety implications. Most people can be found nowadays on social media or through someone that is a mutual friend/old colleague or relation on social media. In my opinion, it is important to be very careful before automatically sharing things like this on social media to ensure everyone is safe.
Is it really raising awareness?
Sharing to raise awareness of cancer/other illness
Does sharing your underwear colour or location of your handbag really raise awareness? Wouldn’t it be better to share the actual signs and symptoms of the disease or illness? Personally, I think so!
Typing Amen or liking and sharing a photo (usually a child’s photo)
Whilst this seems harmless I have in the past known someone whose child’s photo was used in something like this without permission.
The origin of these awareness messages can sometimes be a registered charity but more often than not they seem to be Facebook pages set up for this purpose and often just “like farming”. This is attracting lots of likes to a page and then using it for another purpose, renaming it as a business for example or using the page to spam members!
I personally never share or comment on things like this unless shared by a registered charity. I would never want to risk adding to the stress and upset of a family who has not given permission for a photo to be used.
Sending a card to someone is harmless isn’t it?
Someone is seriously ill and they want hundreds of get well cards to cheer them up, good idea?
This is less common now than it has been in the past however I have still seen appeals like this shared. Whilst it is a lovely idea how long are these appeals shared for?
Imagine the heartache a card for your loved one arriving would cause if they had died a year previously. Sounds unlikely doesn’t it but this can actually happen.
Before participating in anything like this I would recommend researching that it is a current appeal and genuine. If I wish to send something like this I go through a charity called Postpals who allow you to send cards and gifts to seriously ill children. They keep the profiles up to date so you never risk sending to someone who has now died or no longer wishes to receive post.
I have been tagged in a quiz- what’s the harm?
Tell your friends more about you and fill in this fun quiz
Some of the quizzes on social media, particularly Facebook are fun, aren’t they? I do them too but one thing I am very wary of which you may or may not have considered before is the information you give out on these quizzes.
The films you have watched, the books you have read or who snores most you or your partner is all just fun isn’t it, and harmless.
Answering questions like where you were born or your child’s date of birth though isn’t sensible.
Do you think about the other times you use this information? How about your banking security questions? Perhaps it is a security question when you forget your email login, and all sorts of other important and personal information.
Do you know and completely trust everyone on your social media? Unless the answer is yes 100% then why would you put this information in the public domain?
Even if you do trust them implicitly, do you trust their friends? If you are tagging friends in the post to complete it also their friends are likely to see this information too!
My overall thoughts
Maybe I am too cautious, maybe I am not helping someone I could, but I would rather be that than upset someone, cause myself to be a victim of identity fraud or encourage criminals and scammers.
While we are on the subject of this kind of thing don’t get me started on the “forward this to your ten best friends” or “keep this heart flashing” kind of messages! I hate them, they are pointless, if I am friends with someone I message them and chat to them when I can, forwarding a message just proves to annoy people, me anyway!
Did my post make you think a little about the things you share on social media, if so please consider sharing to make others aware and comment to let me know!
Very good post… It only takes two minutes to check that what you are sharing is genuine and truly helpful.
I hear ya Jen! Another one I don't participate in is those "send this to 10 people you love & me too to show you care/for good luck/healing/financial security" etc.