Facebook’s ‘On This Day’ Feature Apparently Causes Confusion, Leads to Sharing of Old Missing Person Story in Hermantown
You can't always take things at face value on the internet. The latest example of this popped up this week, as people mistakenly thought they were doing a good deed by sharing a missing person story on Facebook. The problem is, the story was exactly a year old, and she had been found not long after being reported missing.
The original story was posted on May 16, 2016, detailing that a Hermantown teenager had gone missing. Thankfully, she was found safe not long after word was announced that she had gone missing. When someone goes missing, it is important to get the word out. Social media has made it very easy to spread these tragic events to try to quickly find the missing person safely. Unfortunately, it appears a feature of this very same tool that can help ended up causing some trouble a year later.
After digging into the situation some, it appears that some individuals that shared last year's story of this missing girl had it pop up in their news feed again, thanks to a feature on Facebook called "On This Day". The feature is designed to pull up "memories" from a day in previous years. These memories include posts, photos, and stories you might have shared in the past. Facebook will also share one or two of these memories in your feed to encourage you to relive the past. From the way it looks, a handful of people happened to see this "memory" pop up in their Facebook feed, and re-shared the post; either not realizing it was old, or not knowing that she was found. While their intentions may be noble, the reality is that this has unfortunately created some misinformation that has likely led to some concern among has family and friends of the girl involved in the story.
While I can't stress enough that I appreciate the intentions of those that share stories like this with the intent to help, I ask that you know what you're sharing before you share it. Take the time to read not only the title or look at the photo attached, but actually read what the content of the article itself says. This story that is being shared around this week was updated the day she was found last year, saying within the text of the article that she was found. Yet, this story is being shared around again a year later.
Looking beyond just this story at the greater internet world, it is so very important to use the share button with discretion. With social media being a big part of information distribution, you now play a significant role in the process. Before sharing a story purely based on a headline or an image, take the time to read the story behind that article. Know where it is coming from. Understand the full message before you propagate the information to all of your friends and associates. At the end of the day, if everyone takes those steps, it will make for a more informed world.