It took weeks for Anna Lamb-Creasey to find out that her son was dead, and she's blaming the delay on both local police, and an obscure Facebook messaging feature. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, police in Clayton County, Ga. contacted Lamb-Creasey via Facebook to notify her that her 30-year-old son had been found dead, but the message was sent from an anonymous, unofficial account, and therefore sat unread in a corner of her inbox reserved for missives from non-Facebook friends. The woman's daughter eventually responded to the message some three weeks after her brother had gone missing, and was subsequently informed of the tragic news.
Lamb-Creasey is furious with the police for choosing to contact her through such unconventional, and mysterious means. The original message was reportedly sent from an employee's personal account, under the name "Misty Hancock." Neither Lamb-Creasey nor her daughter were friends with this person, and assumed that her attempt to reach out was a hoax, given that the account's profile picture was of Atlanta rapper T.I.
"Rickie where are you? Love mom."
They also weren't aware of Facebook's policy on anonymous messages. In 2010, the site began filing messages from non-friends (or people with whom you have no mutual friends) under a little-known "Other" tab in user inboxes. Users can guarantee that their message reaches a stranger's inbox, but only if they pay $1, as part of a program the site began testing late last year. The system was ostensibly launched as a way to boost Facebook's revenue, though Lamb-Creasey's plight may have exposed one of its potential pitfalls.
Lamb-Creasey's son, Rickie Lamb, first went missing on January 24th, when a driver struck him as he was crossing the street. The mother spent the ensuing weeks looking for him, at one point even posting a message to his Facebook wall: "Rickie where are you? Love mom." Clayton County police say they made repeated efforts to contact the family through more conventional means, but Lamb-Creasey finds that hard to believe.
"If they can track a criminal down, they couldn't track me down?"
"They told me that they did the best that they can do. But I'm not sure about that," she told the AJC. "If they can track a criminal down, they couldn't track me down? They could have done better. I've been on my job 13 years. They could have found me."
At the very least, she says, they could have reached out from an official police Facebook account, rather than Misty Hancock's. Police seem to have acknowledged at least some fault in this respect, telling the AJC that they are still investigating into why Hancock's account was used.