Facebook Used to Find Lost Owners Instantly

Posted on May 12, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In the middle of the horrible stories about tornados hitting the South comes a pearl about how technology allowed some victims to reclaim mementoes and lost items from their homes.  The New York Times reported a story about the use of Facebook to reunite people with some of their things.  On April 27, 2011, tornadoes ravaged many places in the South, tearing apart homes and businesses in their paths.  Hundreds of miles away, pieces of these homes fell from the sky.  One sympathetic sole, Patty Bullion of Lester, Alabama, created a page on Facebook for posting the found items.  In one case, a women who lost her home in a small town in Alabama was reunited with a homemade quilt found about 50 miles away.  In another example, a photo of a man holding his beloved dog was found in the parking lot of an office complex 175 miles away.

Not only is this a heartwarming story about the good side of humanity and the extraordinary efforts of a few to help those they don’t know, it’s also an interesting story about being instantly responsive.  By using Facebook, Ms. Bullion created a way to instantly find the lost owners of found items.  According to the New York Times, “the first images that Ms. Bullion has posted was identified a few hours later by the sister of the two children shown in the black and white photograph.”  It’s fantastic that these treasures will be reunited with their owners at all, but it’s incredible how fast this has happened.  The disaster happened on a Wednesday.  By that night, items were being posted on this Facebook page and the conversations began.  Comments like “wow. those kids favor Laura and Carlos” and “I know for a fact that this is ours;) I have emailed you about this. Will you please get back with me as soon as you get a chance. Thank you so much.” were posted soon after.  As I write this, 3 days later, the Facebook page has over 65,000 people ‘liking’ it and, with the NY Times article, has garnered global awareness for the human interest story and the possibility of reuniting people with their items.

This Facebook page may only be relevant for a relatively short period of time. Like many other groups, this one has come together for a purpose and will likely disperse after that purpose is served.   It will have connected a number of people with items they lost, and I predict it will also connect those people with the people who found them, creating a new community.   While this is a big positive-side-of -humanity story, it’s also a story about social networking creating temporary communities to be instantly responsive to a current need.

Thank you to Patty Bullion for being so forward thinking and so giving of her time.  It’s been inspiring to me and I’m really looking forward to hearing about all the successful reunions that her site has generated.

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