04/09/2011 09:27 am ET | Updated Jun 08, 2011

Can We Save a Life With Social Media?

This morning, one of my best friends, Bonnie Abaunza, called me with an emergency. Her Uncle Eddy, who has Alzheimer's, had gone missing. He had been staying with his sister in West Covina, CA., while they located a good home for him. While his sister was fixing breakfast, he walked out the front door and disappeared. (The flier for Eddy is here).

This was at 7 am yesterday morning. It is now 3 pm. A day and a half has passed. The police and the media have been alerted and have sent out helicopers and alerts. Nothing so far. It may show up on the evening news tonight. Or in a local newspaper.

For today's world, this is too slow. Who watches the local evening news? I don't. I get my news online.

Like an abducted child, a human life is at stake. And as with a child, it is about information. He cannot communicate the information needed to get home. He is carrying no ID. He will likely not remember where he lives, may not even remember his name.

But someone has seen this man. He walked down streets, perhaps he fell asleep in an alley last night, perhaps even got on a bus. If someone who has seen him knows that people who love him are trying to find him and bring him safely home, they will help.

But the information needs to move fast. The clock is ticking. With the massive social networks we have at our fingertips, it is a crime that this family is waiting and hoping someone might read about it in a newspaper or see it on an evening news program.

It would be a simple thing for Facebook and Twitter to establish some kind of Amber Alert system. In this case, he was in West Covina, CA. How difficult would it be to pull everyone who lives or works in West Covina and send them a blast email with a link to a missing persons page? They can target ads, so they could certainly target notices like this to the right geographical area.

That would be one blast email I certainly would not mind getting.

Unfortunately trying to contact Facebook or Twitter about this is next to impossible. Does anyone have access to the people there who could make this move?

In the meantime, retweeting this or sharing to your Facebook page would be a great start and a great help to Eddy and his family. If you know of someone with lots of friends or followers in Southern California you might let them know so they can also post. And you can add your voice to the Facebook page we started on the subject --

We are online. We are on social media. I like sharing pictures of cute babies and pets as much as anyone. It doesn't mean we can't also use the tremendous reach of these networks to do more, and even save some lives.