Lost and found: Social media steps up to save the day

Abbie Storr
Image caption Abbie Storr was reunited with her engagement ring 48 hours after it was lost thanks to the help of people using social media

If you have lost someone or something you love, gone are the days of relying on the authorities or word of mouth. Social media is now in charge and it is proving to be very successful.

Thanks to the power of Facebook, and the honesty of the Cornish public, a couple from Cornwall were reunited with their missing engagement ring after a successful social media campaign.

Abbie Storr and her fiance Jacob were visiting St Ives when she lost her diamond engagement ring in the town centre at the weekend.

After being shared on the BBC Radio Cornwall Facebook page and the Cornwall Lost and Found Facebook page, 48 frantic hours later Abbie was reunited with her ring.

'Useful tool'

"Social media provides the potential for huge reach and information can spread very quickly," Dr Laura Toogood, a social media author and consultant said.

"If you lose an item or a person goes missing, social media can be an incredibly useful tool for spreading the message or starting a campaign.

"In some cases such messages can go viral within a matter of minutes. It can access lots of different people and communities quickly."

BBC News has examined other occasions social media has saved the day and reunited an individual with something dear to them or found them something they desperately need.

The donor search

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLara Casalotti revealed the news of a donor match in a You Tube video

Lara Casalotti, a 24-year-old student from London, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia - an aggressive type of blood cancer.

She needed a mixed-race stem cell donor to save her life and with the help of the #Match4Lara hashtag Twitter users united to find one.

A donor donated their stem cells in March.

The campaign gained global attention and led to a sharp rise in the number of people signing up as donors, with celebrities including Stephen Fry and JK Rowling also giving their support.

Missing pets

Image copyright Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team
Image caption Adam Nolan was reunited with his Border Collie Jasper

When a dog went missing on a mountain it sparked a social media campaign of nearly 6,000 people to find him, with #FindJasper going viral.

Border Collie Jasper vanished while out for a walk up Scafell Pike in the Lake District with his owner Adam Nolan.

A mountain rescue team, helicopter, police and dog lovers searched for him before he was found.

Precious photographs

Image caption Chris Hesford was recognised in the photographs by friends who saw the social media campaign

Backpacker Chris Hesford from Jersey lost his GoPro camera while kayaking in Byron Bay, Australia, and never thought he would see it again.

Months later Australian Steve Carmody found the camera in a riverbed 60 miles (97km) away and started a social media manhunt.

After two weeks and 8,000 shares on Facebook, Mr Hesford was identified.

Image caption Photos from Chris Hesford's travels around the world were found on the camera's memory stick

Even police forces rely on the sites to get information out. Kent Police announced officers would stop handling lost property as forces struggle to cope with budget cuts.

Now when lost property is found, the advice is to display it on Facebook and Twitter rather than hand it to the police.

Dr Toogood said: "Social media allows people to share what they see in the physical world from a real-time perspective and report back.

"It can help to unite people with a common interest or goal. It can encourage a sense of camaraderie and allow people to lend a helping hand. In the case of lost items, people feel as though they can do their bit to assist by simply spreading the message.

"Sharing and retweeting can be very useful for finding stolen items. It means that many more eyes will be on the lookout."

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption The Taylor family hoped publicity on Facebook would help in the hunt for their stolen puppy

Stolen puppy

A stolen Chihuahua puppy named Caramel was taken in a burglary.

The sick puppy belonged to Lexie Taylor, who has juvenile arthritis, a condition which improved when she began walking her pet.

Caramel was returned to her owners after the search for her went viral, with Lexie's mother Tracy Taylor saying the search reached 13 million people on Facebook.

Image copyright Taylor family
Image caption Lexie Taylor's puppy Caramel was taken when the family's home was burgled

An appeal with a difference

Police in Norway issued a tongue-in-cheek appeal to try to locate the owner of an apparently lost lump of hashish.

The local police force for the islands of Hitra and Froya, in central Norway, posted a photo of the cling-film-wrapped drugs on their official page.

Officers wrote on the site: "Is anyone missing their hashish?"

The substance was found by a member of the public in the town of Fillan and officers said the package contained about about 90g (3.2oz) of hashish, with a street value of 9,000 kroner ($1,000/£720).

"This is quite a lot of money, so whoever lost their hashish can just contact the sheriff's office in Hitra," the post read.

Image copyright Norway Police
Image caption Norwegian police have invited the owner of the package to come forward - causing much amusement online

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites