Social Enterprise

Another case of social media eating the brain of a user

A police officer happily tweets about the recovery of a missing teenager. Only he forgets to tell her mom first.

I will likely go to my grave not knowing the answer to this question: Why is it that some people can't resist the personal advertising of social media? It defies all logic. I actually saw a Facebook conversation between a man and woman about when each would be home from work. I've read the details of broken relationships and endured personal proclamations of love that would make Barbara Cartland throw up.

But a recent situation reported by Chris Matyszczyk for cnet.com has kind of crossed even that ridiculous line. It seems that a woman in the UK whose daughter was missing got to hear about her being found, not from a kindly visit from a police officer, but from a tweet.

The tweeting twit was so eager to get the good news out to the vague populace of the force's Twitter feed that he didn't bother to check that the mother had actually been notified. Even worse? The mother responded to the tweet, asking "Has my daughter been found?' And in response, got: "Yes, an officer will be in touch or call 101 and they will update and return her. Thank you."

I hope that somehow this makes an impression on some working stiff out there in any job. You are not a Kardashian. If you have information, try delivering it the old-fashioned way.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

29 comments
kallom
kallom

Journalist nowadays practically suggest that if you don't blog yourself to death, if you don't tweet about every insignificant moment in your life and if you don't post ten times a day on Facebook and Linkedin and have thousands of followers, you're nobody, Now the same folks find it strange that some people got carried away with the hip of 'share everything on social media'... just because you said 'be careful' a couple of times. Yes, people are like that... careful... sure.

jmattor
jmattor

I don't have a facebook account, nor do I ever intend on creating one. Yet so far this year I've learned of my brother's passing and been wished a happy birthday via facebook. These people know I don't have an account, yet they continue to "update" me via facebook thinking I'll get the message eventually. The strange thing is that I do get the message ultimately although not timely.

jevans4949
jevans4949

The problem is that the speed of the internet exceeds the speed of police procedures, and word-of-mouth process. There was a recent case where a student from India was murdered in Manchester, UK; His friends (not anybody official) were posting tributes on Facebook before his parents in India were officially informed. But then it probably involved getting a message from the police in Manchester to the police in his home town, probably through several layers of bureaucracy. Don't know what happens elsewhere, but when a soldier dies in Afghanistan, it gets reported in the media twice; on day 1 in the form "A soldier from x regiment has been killed" and the next day his name is given out, after the family has been informed. I'm not sure whether that's necessarily a good thing.

Will Lewis
Will Lewis

It's right up there with the girl that updated her Facebook page to give a heartfelt goodbye to her very-recently-deceased uncle, with a reply from her female cousin saying "MY DAD DIED?!??" How incredibly sad is this state of emotional ignorance that we have gotten ourselves into?

richandmolly
richandmolly

Yes, I see another class being added to police training, how to properly utilize social media. It is a new fact of life. The first time I experienced a co-worker asking me if I had a nice time at the beach. I began to answer???then I mentally paused when I realized that the beach was a last minute decision and that I had not told anyone at work. Then it hit me, my wife and his wife are both face-book-friends. It is a new world. PS thanks for the wike link for Barbara Cartland, perfect for someone like me ignorant to romance novel authors.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

the originators of most tweets are twits...

bigmactech
bigmactech

It wasn't his/her enthusiasm for the fact that the missing girl was found, it was enthusiasm about getting noticed, praised, put on a pedestal. Clearly the sign of a very insecure person with an inflated ego. These types of people have little real concern for the welfare of others. They are usually narcissistic, it's all about them. This police officer needs counseling.

Allezzam
Allezzam

I've lost both of my aged parents in the last seven months. In both cases, my daughter found out about her grandparents deaths from (Family) posts on Facebook. (This was within the first hour after they passed.) In the case of my Mother's passing, my daughter knew before I had even been informed. At some point during the release of social media were there instructions included to check your common sense, compassion, and ability to think at the door? The "offenders" were surprised when I called them on this point. (These normally good and thoughtful people meant no harm.) I tend to agree that, generally speaking, posters to social media care more about the way they want to appear than the message itself. Character flaws of posters and basic psychological needs that are being unfulfilled (Acceptance for ex.) by posters stick out like sore thumbs. The moral is, to pretend you are standing in front of a TV News camera communicating your message before you post. It's essentially the same thing. There are reasons that news programs hold certain bits of information. "Names withheld pending notification of next of kin."

jonrosen
jonrosen

I agree about the 'people losing their minds on social media'. As for a comment on how bad/dumb some people are, here's one for you... A husband and wife couple I know.. He's a Linux Guru, posted a good 40+ times on their own, and each other's FB pages, WHEN THEY WERE NO MORE THAN 3 FEET FROM ONE ANOTHER. Corresponding, and even including pictures of both of them, ON THE BED, separated only by their dog. And what's worse, they were updating each other on talking about going out to dinner and other inanities. Now, I love these two... but jesu.....

Artificerman
Artificerman

Officer needs an 'interview', use a personal means of contact in this sort of situation, try the telephone and properly identify yourself. Guy is an idiot, not a tweeter a twat.

Andy P Roberts
Andy P Roberts

Do you trust everything you read on Twitter? A mother who has lost a child will be very stressed - a message on twitter isn't convincing proof that the child is ok so the news will cause turmoil - "Is this message true?", "Is this just raising false hopes?" - this would just increase the stress - If the mother can't then confirm it through a better chanel it could make things worse until she can, pushing comeone nearer to the edge. In this case that didn't happen so it worked out ok but we have to think of all possible scenarios. (What we're not told is whether the mother was told to watch twitter as this might be the quickest way of getting the news - if that was the case then it completley changes the situation

bvongrabe
bvongrabe

. . . he used the most efficient way to inform the most people involved of a successful search. That would be different if the outcome would have been tragic. In that case a personal visit to the mother would have been appropriate.

jsmurali
jsmurali

The police officer did the right thing. When a child is missing and found, one needs to reach the mother as fast as possible with the good news and what better way to reach? Even if the mother does not read the tweet, some one close will read it and inform the mom.

Mpumelelo
Mpumelelo

The Police officer was overjoyed and I do not see any problem in that. I would be worried if it had been bad news. It's not everyday that one has to bear good news in these times. if twitter could be used to search for missing persons, why not use it thank the public if the missing person has been found?

jkameleon
jkameleon

Its functionality is similar to this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YiZWEAslYE Spilling your guts in classic confession booth defies all logic too, but people do it anyway. Why? I don't know, and I don't care. Programs have bugs, and so does our psyche. We are logical only if we learn it.

gechurch
gechurch

I don't know that journalists are responsible. Sure I've seen that odd media piece talking about the staggering number of people using social media, but nothing I've seen (here in Australia) has suggested that I'm less worthy for not being involved. I don't know that there is any group to 'blame' for the rise of social media. I just think it's what a large percentage of people want (avoid real human interaction, instant gratification, the feeling of importance from writing something that the 'world will see', etc etc).

gechurch
gechurch

Certainly international bureaucracy could slow things down significantly, but that's not my impression ot the story here. It sounds as if it was a local police officer. There was no word of mouth needed; the office should have retrieved the mothers phone number from the file and rang her. Not only is it the professional thing to do, but it's authorative. As others have mentioned seeing a tweet about your daughter online is probably going to raise more questions than it answers. I know if I was in that situation I would rather have a call from an officer giving me full details, than find out 5 minutes earlier on a tweet that doesn't give me full details and that doesn't give me proper channels to find out more information. I'm a little confused about what is 'not necessarily a good thing' - are you suggesting the media should release the dead soldier's name immediately, or that his/her name should not be released through the media at all?

gechurch
gechurch

Many people treat it as a race, as if being the first to know something is some sort of achievement. This is no different from 'real' life really, except everything happens so quickly online and it's so quick and easy to post the race is that much faster. You're absolutely right about otherwise very decent people being the culprits too. It's a strange phenomenom.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What's to keep a prankster from creating an account with a name similar to the officer's, and tweeting a 'Found!' message using the same hashtag? Posted before I noticed Andy Roberts expressed the same point below before I posted, and did a better job of it.

wingnut1024
wingnut1024

You and that cop (who didn't follow protocol) ought to have your toys taken away. His and your brain (for thinking that he did the right thing) have had your brains consumed by social media. Did the police tweet to start the search? Could a person use the tweet of a lost child to their advantage? Whose's to say that he will be so tweet restrained, the next time, when the news is less than welcome.

sissy sue
sissy sue

...had the officer stifled his enthusiasm long enough for common sense to prevail. Who would care about the positive outcome more than the mom? What really slays me is the impersonal response the mother received -- ???Yes, an officer will be in touch or call 101 and they will update and return her. Thank you.??? -- after the officer had gushed all over Twitter.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It's the responsibility of law enforcement to inform the family directly, not toss a message into the ether and hope it gets to the right place.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

And you don't think the mother might be waiting by her phone? Guaaahgh! Mblrlrlrlrlrlrlrbrbrbrbrb!!! Too much, too much!!!!11!!!

gechurch
gechurch

I wonder if you'd feel the same if it was your child that was lost. If I was worried sick about a loved one I don't think I'd appreciate hearing unconfirmed rumours on the e-grapevine that s/he was found. I'd much prefer a police office contact me and... you know... actually bring that loved one back. Being told she can ring 101 to arrange to get her daughter back is ridiculous! (I wonder if there's a robot phone system "If you'd like to pick up a lost relative please press 1, if you are currently being raped please press 2" "Thank you. Your call is important to us. We will try to answer as soon as we can").

bigmactech
bigmactech

It wasn't his/her enthusiasm for the fact that the missing girl was found, it was enthusiasm about getting noticed, praised, put on a pedestal. Clearly the sign of a very insecure person with an inflated ego. These types of people have little real concern for the welfare of others. They are usually narcissistic, it's all about them. This police officer needs some serious counseling. And when you think about it, what other mistakes might this officer make in a quest for recognition and praise? Think about it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

And that person is supposed to protect your privacy, and has legal exemptions to do so.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

God. And we all know what a big mouth the G-meister has!

jkameleon
jkameleon

Many fancy things are supposed to happen in theory, like little angels peeping at the daughers of men from behind the clouds, fluttering around them, and making little demigods (genesis 6:1-4). In practice, however, everything you say in confession both can and will be used against you. Just like the social networks.

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