Full Fact says the picture has been taken from a BBC News article
Facebook posts that appeal for information about a missing five-year-old girl called Sofia have been declared hoaxes.
The alerts, which have been shared hundreds of times each in various local community groups, are false according to the UK’s independent fact checking organisation.
Full Fact explains that the posts all use very similar text, which says: “Help!!! MISSING Child!! [location]
“My grand daughter Sofia only 5years old went out on her bike earlier today and she still hasn’t returned. She doesn’t know where she’s going, new surroundings.
“There is a silver alert activated on her. Please help bump this post so we can get her home safely!! [sic]”
The picture of “Sofia” is from a BBC News article published in 2021.
Full Fact wrote: “There are several indications that these appeals are not genuine. Aside from the obvious point that the same child cannot have gone missing in many different areas at once, the posts also all use the same image of a young girl holding two dachshunds on pink leads.
“But this picture appears to have been taken from a BBC News article. The girl in the picture is identified by a different name, and the story is not about her but rather the theft of the two dogs from the family home in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.”
Additionally, these hoax appeals nearly always have comments disabled to stop people calling them out as false.
Full Fact also point out that a “silver alert” system doesn’t exist in the UK.
Often these posts are often edited later to promote something such as property listings while they are going viral.
Full Fact has written to Meta to urge the social media giant to put stronger measures in place to tackle the issue.
“This may cause local community groups to become overwhelmed with false information and potentially result in genuine missing and lost posts being ignored – or perhaps worse – dismissed as fake.”