Social Media Used in all the Wrong Ways?

I though this article was interesting and related a lot to what we’ve been talking about in class

A New Jersey teen tweeted last night “There is somone in my hour ecall 911.” and was seemingly kidnapped a short time later.

But now the case is being investigated as a runaway – not a kidnapping. The teen was apparently identified as a girl who was taken in a cab later that night to a train station. She still hasn’t been found, but authorities aren’t suspecting foul play. 

It’s interesting that this girl may have used twitter to fake her own kidnapping. It’s showing all these other uses for social media that most people wouldn’t even consider. It kind of makes me think, is social media harming or helping us? Because that girl tweeted this the police station in that town had to send out members of the police force to follow up on something that may have been bogus all along. 

What are your guy’s thoughts? 

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7 Responses to Social Media Used in all the Wrong Ways?

  1. KiriMullen says:

    I actually saw that all over my twitter feed. Everyone was retweeting her tweet, looking for information and trying to help. I feel sorry for her that she felt her life was so bad that she needed to fake her own kidnapping to get away from it. It is complicated though because at the same time she wasted the time of police officers who may or may not have had other things to be doing in their town. Very complicated.

  2. Alyssa says:

    Social media is a powerful tool. Like many powerful tools, an individual is responsible for how that power is used. Here we have a clear instance of how social media can be a detriment to a police investigation. The article states, “Clark police were flooded with an estimated 6,000 phone calls after Alongi’s tweet spread across the internet.

    “It sent more manpower (down) these wrong-way streets,” Scherb said. “It hampers us because we have to follow up on bogus leads.”

    Scherb said the department even received calls from psychics offering their help in finding Alongi.

    As to the influence social media had on the case, Scherb said, “I’m sure this will be a case study down the road.”

    Sending police officers on false trails to locate a girl allegedly faking her own kidnapping is not a good use of the public safety units towns and cities have in place. However, that is not say that as a result all of social media wastes money and resources.

    In fact, when used to generate attention to real crises, such as the injuries sustained by the woman who needed medical treatment after exposure to flesh-eating bacteria, social media can have a very powerful positive effect. Aimee Copeland, the flesh-eating bacteria victim, gained national attention through social media’s constant spreading of her story. As a result, a recent article in The Huffington Post reported that in August, Copeland “returned to a home that had received a major makeover. A homebuilder, Pulte Homes, added a 1,956-square-foot living space for Copeland onto her parents’ home. It includes a bedroom and bathroom with wheelchair-accessible features; wider doorways; an exercise room with parallel bars and other equipment; and an elevator between the addition’s two floors. The $200,000 job was paid for by donations, at no cost to the Copeland family.” It is likely that there would not have been as many donations had her story not spread like wildfire over Twitter, enticing support from individuals no where near her geographically.

    Individuals like Alongi should think about the repercussions their actions on social media sites can have if they act like the boy who cried wolf. By the same token, when serious issues pull at the heartstrings of a community, as an globalized community, I don’t mind having my heartstrings pulled at. In fact, it makes me happier to know other people who may not know of others’ sufferings have an easy way of finding out and maybe offering support that otherwise would have never existed.

  3. kgadbois says:

    I think that this news definitely resonates in how powerful social media can be and the changes it has made in our everyday lives. While this is an extreme and horrific example of what can go wrong with social media, I think it needs to be pointed out that this situation could have actually been legitimate and therefore, a tweet could have singlehandedly saved this girl’s life. As with most new inventions, especially technological, there is an ever presence of good vs. evil and most of the time, it is impossible to say that one outweighs the other.

  4. Melissa Gately says:

    Unfortunately social media has the possibility of being used in all the wrong ways. This story argues ethics of social media however this isn’t new. There are several other stories akin to this story and an example is the ballon boy hoax story []. I liked kgadbois’s comment about if the story was legitimate then it could’ve saved her life. Social media has many significants but can unleash an array of grievances. This story teaches a valuable lesson.

  5. Chelsea says:

    Although this case, if it was a hoax, may have been a harmful use of social media, I tend to wonder what would have happened if it wasn’t a hoax. If this were true and Kara didn’t have a phone around her immediately, happened to be near a computer, and tweeted what she had it seems like it would be a tremendous use of social media. Police arrived pretty immediately and thoroughly investigated the situation which makes me believe they could have helped her. This use of social media would in fact be even more useful than a traditional 911 phone call because of all the community outreach it gave the situation.

  6. nancypierce says:

    Social media like facebook and twitter have proved to be enormously influential and powerful tools in galvanizing people and bringing communities together. The Arab spring revolts used social media to gain momentum and bring organization to their causes. This use of social media to fake a crisis, or spread lies and rumors are all examples of misuse and abusing the influence and power of these tools. However, when they are used in the right ways, they can be highly beneficial and even spark change or reform in existing systems. One example of a very powerful and useful way to use social media is the spread of this young woman’s story:
    Her story went viral and was rapidly shared by people all over the 5-college area on facebook. I found out about this story via some shares by my friends on Facebook. This past weekend, there were protests in the former Amherst student’s honor. This story may not have received as much attention is it hadn’t been circulating around social media sites. Now, there is pressure for action so that something this horrendous doesn’t happen again, and the people responsible are held accountable. To me, this is the best way that social media can be used. This makes me really happy.

  7. eaabrams says:

    This article was very alarming to me because it really shows just how much of an influence social media has become in our society. Facebook and Twitter and other forms of social media, while not the most reliable, definitely receive the most attention. Although Kara Alongi seemed to have faked her own kidnapping, it is still sad that she thought tweeting about it would be more affective than actually calling 911, in this situation. After finding out about this poor usage of twitter to fake a personal crisis, I have to say that I think social media does more harm than good. If Kara’s kidnapping was in fact real I do think that social media could be useful just because it can spread important information to a large amount of people very quickly and maybe increase the chances of someone helping. In this case I think that social media was abused and Kara’s fake kidnapping attempt, if anything, just added the lack of human interaction and relationships in our society today.

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