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      Social media could save lives

      <font size="2">Thousands shared information to help spread the word about missing Amish girls.</font>

      Whether its Facebook, Twitter or a mobile app, thousands of people shared vital information to help spread the word about the two Amish girls that went missing. And, its amazing how fast it went viral.

      "If you look around pretty much everybody is holding a phone, looking at a phone, using a tablet. I think it's the quickest way to get the word out. Especially in a dangerous situation as these two girls could have been in, that social media is the way to go," says Janet Hosmer of Florida.

      Many said the first way they learned about the story and the amber alert was through social media.

      "I think its extremely effective. Like I said, I would not have known about the alert if it wasn't through Facebook and sharing. It was something that I shared though my network," says Tanya Eastman of Syracuse.

      Professor Anthony Rotolo specializes in digital and social media. He says it's incredible to see how many people took to the web.

      It remains to be seen what role social media actually played in the Amish girls being returned to their family, but there's no doubt that the volume of information that was out there helped spread the word.

      "The amber alert, the sketch to try and identify the missing girls. We can assume that was digital information that was shared most likely. That person may have had a smart phone in their pocket, able to reference that information when they needed to look it up. And, it may have been shared by a family member or a community member," says Anthony Rotolo, Professor of Digital and Social Media.

      So, while you may think sharing one post in the digital world may not have an impact, it could help those in need ; out in the real world. And, to give you an idea of how well social media and technology works the initial amber alert story we posted on our website was shared over 5,000 times.