Privacy

European Day for Victims of Crime: The impact of social media on missing children

Today, February 22nd, is the European Day for Victims of Crime. This year’s focus lies on the impact of social media on victims, such as missing children. While sharing information about a missing child on social media can be of great help in quickly recovering the child, not deleting this information after the child has been found can have serious consequences for the child in the future. That is why AMBER Alert Europe urges to always erase all information about the child once it has been retrieved.

Missing child appeals, like AMBER Alerts, contain personal information such as the name, age, physical characteristics and picture of the child. When a child goes missing, this information is quickly shared with a large number of people through social media. Which is great. However, when the child is found, people often forget to delete this information from their social media accounts. Consequently, this information stays visible online. Not only does this go against privacy regulations, it might also cause the child harm later on in his or her life. It is thus extremely important that all this information is deleted straight away after the child has been found.

Only share missing child appeals from official sources

Always check whether the missing child appeal comes from a reliable source before you share it. Reliable sources are, for example, official law enforcement websites or (news) websites that are considered to be reliable. Many missing child appeals coming from unofficial sources are fake, years old or even possibly spread by perpetrators who are stalking or harassing someone.