When Hayley Faith Wilson slipped out her window and ran away from home, her father, Ray, uploaded a heart-breaking video on YouTube. In it, he used white cards to tell the world about how his missing 17-year-old daughter had left behind her mobile phone, along with a yellow sticky note telling him to let her go.
Although there were a bunch of cynics who denounced the father’s plea for help as crocodile tears and a ploy to promote his band Texas Heat, over 620,000 people watched the video, and many shared it on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #FindHayley and #LoveHayley.
After several days of Twitter users sending claims they saw her at a party in Oceanside, the trending search party culminated with Carlsbad police finding the runaway Texan and detaining her. Ray then flew to San-Diego where he was reunited with his daughter.
This is only one example of ordinary people using the internet to help the police and shattered families. Since its exponential growth, a bevy of Sherlock Holmes wannabes have used the world at their fingertips to not only find runaway girls dreaming of the California life, but to identify Jane and John Does, and to solve other disturbing cold and current crimes of rape, murder, and paedophilia.
And sometimes these amateur sleuths go beyond using the internet…