On Sunday, Kara Alongi was kidnapped from her home; or was she? The sixteen year old posted this portentous message on her Twitter feed at 6:25 p.m. last night: ‘There is someone in my hour ecall 911’ (There is someone in my house, call 911.) She has been missing since the ominous tweet that set off a social media firestorm as the online-world began spreading the message of her abduction. #HelpFindKara started trending across a breadth of Internet outlets, but the issue also brought its skeptics as to its validity, as well. Was Kara Alongi kidnapped, or was her post a not-so-elaborately-crafted hoax?
On the surface, the social media world’s response to Alongi’s tweet is a gallant one. We’ve all seen how quickly the body-Internet can rally behind a cause, from the Kony 2012 campaign to the SOPA/PIPA organized blackouts. From the moment she updated her Twitter, #HelpFindKara had been re-tweeted over 32,000 times and the local police department flooded with phone calls.
The interesting wrinkle here is with the police department’s response. They have issued press statements citing that there appeared to be no forced entry into Alongi’s residence and that they do not believe she was in ‘any immediate physical danger.’ A local taxi company confirms that a call was received from her address around the time of the tweet and a female matching Alongi’s description was dropped off at a nearby train station. Weighing all the facts, it appears we have a very disturbed young girl with an unfulfilled desire for attention.
It appears Alongi has stepped in the e-hornet’s nest, incensing the hive mind who first supported determining her whereabouts, and now would rather find her personally to give her a piece of their minds. While she garnered over 95,000 new followers overnight, the majority of them are now furious with what appears to be an online stunt.
As long as social media users continue taking the bait in situations such as Alongi’s without properly evaluating the facts first, these stories will persist. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of the ability of news to go viral, and only lends to the ‘boy who cried wolf’ mindset that will be established online when someone is really in need.
PR/PR Public Relations