Baby Victoria had only been in the world a few hours before she was abducted and found again — with the help of a few armchair Facebook activists.
It all began Monday night as Victoria lay in her mother’s arms in a Canadian hospital room. A young woman whisked into the room and declared confidently that it was time for Victoria to be weighed, according to the Daily Globe and Mail.
Moments later, Victoria’s mother, Melissa McMahon, saw the woman walk out of the room but not toward the nursery.
“She was very calm, she wasn’t stressed. It seemed logical, the baby hadn’t been weighed since her birth,” McMahon later recounted to the Globe and Mail.
Victoria’s father, Simon Boisclair, desperately posted a photo of their child and a plea for help on Facebook.
“Help us please find our daughter,” Boisclair wrote in a Facebook message. “Share as quickly as possible.”
Two things happened then: The image went viral and was shared more than 8,000 times and a group of bored friends saw it and did something.
“We were on Facebook,” Charlene Plante, who along with her three friends helped recover the baby, told CTV. “We just wanted to do something for the night, so we went out to find the car.”
Police issued an Amber Alert for the baby and released surveillance video to the public.
According to CTV, Plante believed she recognized the suspect, who she said was a former neighbor. She along with her friends Melizanne and Sharelle Bergeron, and Sharelle’s boyfriend Marc-André Coté drove to the apartment complex, spotted the car police believed the suspect was driving and immediately called the police.
Three hours after she was last seen, Victoria had been found. The emotional moment when police brought Victoria out of the apartment where she was being held and down the stairs was caught on cellphone video and posted on Facebook by Mélizanne Bergeron.
“Seconds after we saw the baby and we could touch and it was the best moment in my life. We were crying,” Bergeron told CTV.
While the debate over the usefulness of social media activism continues to rage, it shouldn’t be conflated with the ways that social media has already changed — often for the better — the way critically important information is widely disseminated.
Of course, these four friends went further than most would and went out of their way to search for the suspect, but the photo of Victoria spread like wildfire at a time when every moment — and every share — counted.
So share on, armchair warriors, share on.
Victoria’s father Simon Boisclair posted his thanks on Facebook.