A positive social response
Monday 4th February 2013, 3:00PM GMT.
FACEBOOK often attracts its share – sometimes justified – of bad press.
Yet this weekend the controversial global social networking phenomena has proved it can
come into its own and reap real benefits within small communities such as ours.
As fears grew on Saturday for missing Guernsey mum Gillian Sarahs, word spread quickly on its online forums among family and friends of the woman, last seen sometime during early Friday evening.
The island police’s Facebook site then received many offers of help with the search, posted by people keen to assist in whatever way they could.
That led to yesterday’s milestone move by the force to draft in – for what is believed to have been the first time locally – public assistance with a major police operation.
As stories in this newspaper regularly reveal, Guernsey is a place where most islanders are more than prepared to go the extra mile to help others in need.
In fact, it is often one of the first things that strikes newcomers arriving from larger, anonymous towns or cities, where even knowing your neighbours is increasingly rare.
Our reports on today’s pages one and two show how our island’s police in particular have moved a step further towards tapping into that highly valuable source of community spirit by using their own recently-launched Facebook site.
Engaging with the public in ways such as this can be a gamble but can equally make a very real and important difference when it works.
The downside of course is that social media is open to abuse and user-generated content can lack the accuracy and accountability people rightly expect from other more traditional forms, such as local newspapers.
But like every other service or industry, the modern-day policing model is developing and having to, in order to connect with a changing society. Getting its message out in any format it can on a whole raft of matters, from Facebook taxis to urgent missing persons appeals, will prove key.
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