Kansas City, Missouri 2021-09-24 14:01:42 –
Tampa, Florida — Search for “Gabby Petito” anywhere Social media The platform has millions of results.
When a 22-year-old child goes missing on a cross-country road trip with a fiancé who returned to Florida with a van, Petite’s family asks the world to share her photo to help find her. I asked. Not only did people share those photos, but thousands of people tried to become true criminal detectives on social media.
People shared a TikTok story of possible interactions with the couple, a YouTube screen grab that could show Petito’s white van, and social media users matched her videos and photos looking for clues. ..
within a few days, Facebook groupBegan to discuss the theory of how to find Petito, has grown to 24,000 members from all over the country.
So what role can social media play in finding missing people?
From photos and videos of the Boston Marathon shared online in 2013 to the January 6 riot at the Capitol, which provided the FBI with more than 200,000 photos to help social media catch suspects online. Cloud sourcing information is not new.
But in the case of Gabby Petit, it’s different.
“But this incident has captivated an American audience for several reasons. One I think that cross-country trip was added to it. Their very public life on social media certainly added to it. I know it was done, “said Ráchael Powers. Professor of Criminology at the University of South Florida. “In addition, there was a video of the camera I was wearing.”
The couple’s expedition from North Port, Florida to New York via Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming made many feel closer to the incident along the way.
And of course, there are hikers, travelers and bloggers who have become familiar with Petit.
Many posted on social media that they were once in an abusive relationship, and their body camera footage triggered them after the couple was involved in a physical debate.
Some have criticized the media attention that the incident received. They claim that the case was reported more because Petit was white, but people in the missing colors often do not get the same attention.
Salasterin, a national cold case consultant, studied this “missing Caucasian female syndrome” in her PhD and said it wasn’t the reason she became viral.
“People are discussing’Missing White Women’s Syndrome’and how it contributes to Gabby’s story and her appeal to the masses,” Stein said. “I think the explanation is too simple, and there are many factors that have helped Gabby. One of them is that she wanted to be an influencer. She lives to be seen by people. Is there. “
But social media is not always a good thing. It can also interfere with the investigation.
A spokesperson for Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said in an email, “Social media can be a great tool for raising awareness about missing subjects, but a hotbed of false information. It could be. “
“People on social media are great, creative and come from outside the box, but they don’t have the background to research,” Powers said.
according to FBI National Crime Information CenterIn 2020, about 550,000 missing persons were submitted, and by the end of the year 89,637 were still active.
National Missing Person System It was found that 40% of the reported cases were over 20 years old and 22% were over 10 years old.
One of the missing people on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office page, Kelly Rothwell, is a young woman who went missing from Indian Rock Beach in 2011.
“Kelly Rothwell has been missing since March 12, 2011,” the post reads. “Roswell was finally found alive because he was seen by a friend who was driving away from a Chili’s restaurant in Clearwater, Florida at around 3:38 pm. Rothwell had lunch with a female friend and went home. I advised him to go home and end the relationship. David Robert Perry, W / M, 04/08/64. “
According to the post, Rothwell had planned to meet a friend later that night, but never appeared. Her car was later discovered parked at Indian Rock Beach, Florida. She hasn’t been in contact with anyone since that day.
Perry left for New York that same night and refused to work with law enforcement agencies.
According to Powers, if social media became more prevalent in 2011, it could have helped Rothwell search.
“The younger generation certainly has a big digital footprint that their lives are online, documented, and basically leave a paper trail that everyone can see. I think it helps law enforcement in that respect. “She said.
“For the duration of the cold case since the start of the Internet, hopefully people will go back and try to find those missing parts that are astounding,” Stein added.
Petito had a dream of becoming a social media influencer. That may be her legacy.
For those who want to help find the missing person, HCSO advises:
- If you find something unusual or suspicious, please say something.
- Share legitimate news and information from law enforcement agencies.
- No matter how small it looks, call a non-emergency line for information.
click here Visit the FBI page dedicated to people reported missing or kidnapped.
This story was originally published by Stassy Olmos at the Scripps Station WFTS With Tampa.
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