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Kara Alongi: Missing teen an example of Twitter use or abuse?

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AP Photo/Union County, N.J. Prosecutor's Officer

(Read caption) Kara Alongi, the missing teen who used Twitter to say there were intruders in her home, was seen in surveillance video buying a ticket at the Rahway N.J., train station on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, after her tweet. The image provided by the Union County, N.J., Prosecutor's Office.

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Kara Alongi, the New Jersey teenager whose Tweet about a home intruder sparked a massive Twitter campaign to #helpfindkara was probably not kidnapped, police say. Rather, they say the evidence points toward the 16-year-old being an apparent runaway.

Police are still trying to track down the teen. News reports today say Alongi purchased a train ticket to New York City on the same day that she tweeted that someone was in her house. But the hot topic for a lot of those who have followed the Kara drama is something more general: the way social media has transformed not only this case, but law enforcement in general – and missing children cases in particular. 

Twitter, with its massive number of users, has proved a boon to a number of advocacy campaigns. It has mobilized movements from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring; it has assisted law enforcement in finding missing children through Amber Alerts and helped reunite at least one woman with her dog.

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