Social media could be an equalizer for finding missing children, highlighting posts about kids from all backgrounds without the filters of traditional media and police gatekeepers. A USA Today analysis suggests social media audiences still pick favorites by bestowing more likes, shares and views on posts about missing white children — especially girls — than missing Black children. In 375 videos featured on Facebook by The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the average views on posts about white girls was more than 63,000; for Black girls, it was 38,300. Researchers have determined that news media and police pay less attention when people of color vanish, a phenomenon known as “missing white woman syndrome.”
Social media managers at the center focus on the most vulnerable and those the news ignores. On the center's Facebook page — with nearly 1.2 million followers — it posted more videos about missing Black kids than other children. The new analysis found that the center's 139 posts about Black missing kids outnumbered posts about white missing children (118) and Hispanic missing children (91). Fewer posts featured children of other races and ethnicities. Posts about Black girls and boys received significantly fewer views — 38,300 and 37,600 respectively.