Tiktok Used to Find Missing People Online

On December 12th, Lauren Smith-Fields was found dead in her apartment. Her friends and family resorted to the police earlier to find Lauren, but the urgency was of no luck. They turned to Tiktok where they were able to spread the word about Lauren. Lauren would be turning 22 in the following month and her fellow friends have planned the celebration, looking back at the good old times they had in high school.

Smith-Fields studied physical therapy in Norwalk Community College. The mother, Shantell Fields, didn’t know her daughter passed away until two days after the incident. The family begged for the police to find their daughter, but the police needed evidence. They shared their story on TikTok which has received a lot of media attention in the public. Her friends would share clips of Smith-Fields’s personality and the remaining memories they had with her on the phone. Social media commenters were trying to help; some of them were passionate about finding missing people. The hashtags #laurensmithfields and #justiceforlaurensmithfields garnered attention of over 27 million views. It wasn’t until late January when the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner studied the case. Smith-Fields died from overdosing fentanyl, prescribed medication, and alcohol. The detective who helped with this case got suspended as the police didn’t notify the parents about their daughter’s death. There was also another death that occurred similarly to Smith-Fields, but this person died in Bridgeport.

Brenda Lee Rawls, the person who died in Bridgeport, has her death notified by the neighbors, not the police. No one knew what was the cause of her death, but the detective also got suspended in this case. Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, finds TikTok as a powerful tool to help spread the word and locate missing people of color. She referred to the Sandra Bland case when she was hung in a jail cell.

TikTok helped multiple users connect and bring awareness to missing people in our lives. More organizations that support the people of color go to these platforms where they can use the platform to raise awareness about these missing people in their lives. While it does not pinpoint the exact location where the person had disappeared, it at least put the audience in the whole lookout as the family searches for their loved ones.

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