Earlier this year, the DC Metro police department began publishing their missing person's flyers on their social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter, in hopes that they would gain more traction and these people will be found. Since March 19, the DC Metro police department has published 20 missing person ads, 10 of which belonging to minors. However, last week social media erupted in outrage after an Instagram post reported 14 African American girls have gone missing in Washington DC in the past 24 hours.
The post has since gone viral, sparking the #MissingDCGirls hashtag on Twitter. And people have demanded that the DC Metro Police Department do something to address this epidemic of missing girls. However, Metro Police spokesperson Karimah Bilal recently confirmed to NBC Washington that there, in fact, has not been a report of 14 girls that have gone missing in a single a day. While there have been roughly 500 missing youth cases reported to the DC Metro Police, the report of the 14 missing girls is false. Many investigative reporters also researched and confirmed that some of the girls featured in the viral post have been missing for several years, and others are not from the DC area.
Overall, the numbers of missing people have decreased in the recent years. But by using the power of social media, police departments like DC Metro are posting older reports in hopes to find individuals who have been missing for a longer period of time; creating the illusion of a sudden epidemic of missing people.
However, it is statistically proven that of the total number of missing youth reports, 36.7% are African American; making them the largest demographic in this group. And many organizations, such as the Black and Missing Foundation, feel that missing African Americans do not get the same amount of media attention as Caucasians, calling this the "missing white woman syndrome."
Lawmakers, however, are not waiting around to see if this is a false viral trend. DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond have recently written a letter to FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate these claims.
And for us at home, the best way to find these missing people is to stay updated and repost the missing people ads from your local police department's social media pages. With enough participation, we may come closer to bringing these people home.