In 2010, I received a social media post from a friend in law enforcement about an individual who had murdered someone in the USA. This person was potentially fleeing from the USA to Canada.
My friend had sent that social media post out to all of his connections. He even asked specific people to share the post. As a result, I sent that social media post out to my connections as well. This armed and dangerous “bad guy” was caught just before he could cross over the USA-Canada border within a short period of time. For everyone watching, the period of time from original post on Facebook to the apprehension of the criminal was noteworthy.
For police departments, and other organizations looking at using social media for law enforcement or community policing, this story has important considerations.
Social media post – The Speed:
One of the key things to notice was the sheer speed in which the social media post when out and the impact of that post.
Just think of it, a lot of people were alerted that this bad guy was on the way within a short period of time. Law Enforcement informed the people at the border, and surrounding areas, not to come in contact with the fleeing criminal; but only to report their location to police.
Social media post – The Reach:
The original post had a potential reach of about 75,000 Facebook users. People felt compelled to share the original post due to security concerns, the post went out and was seen by many people on Facebook.
When people feel that sharing a post will help their friends and neighbors stay safe, then they will be motivated to share that post.
Social media post – The Outcome
What should be noted by law enforcement and businesses? Social media can get your message out faster and farther than any other means of communication. What should be noted also is the sheer reach and impact of a message that people are passionate about. In this case, people wanted the bad guy caught. They were interested in helping out.
What can be learned from this incident? When the message is right and the people are passionate about it, the message can go far quickly. It’s just that simple.
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