June 14, 2011 -- A new poster has been released in the search for missing 20-year-old Indiana University student Lauren Spierer. While the poster includes the typical photo, physical description and contact information, it also has a more unusual feature.
Beside Spierer's photograph is a QR barcode, a square black and white barcode that can be photographed with a cell phone application that then takes you to a website. In this case, it's the official Find Lauren website run by her family.
This is just the latest in a search effort that has utilized multiple forms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, websites and an upcoming blog. Each of these has both "official" accounts coming from friends and family and "unofficial" pages run by other supporters.
The NewsOnLaurenS Twitter account has over 19,000 followers to date. The account sent out a tweet today that read, "WOW! We have followers averaging 34 tweets per minute! Thank you for doing all you can virtually to get out Lauren's information!!"
The account is constantly tweeting and even live tweets the daily press conferences with Spierer's family and the Bloomington Police Department, sending bite-sized news updates into the digital universe.
Spierer's best friends Blair Wallach and Becca Lefkowitz were among the first to start tweeting when the young woman disappeared on June 3 at around 4:30 a.m.
"It's been amazing what the social networking has done," Wallach said. "People have been so supportive."
"We're hoping that this gets out to as many people as possible," Lefkowitz said.
The Spierer family's Facebook page, "Official Lauren Spierer Updates From Her Family" has over 18,000 "likes" on Facebook. The family posts several times a day on this page.
The buzz created by family, friends and supporters helped get the case a two-minute segment on "America's Most Wanted" on Saturday night, after which the Bloomington police received dozens of tips from viewers.
Many of Spierer's friends have taken to tweeting celebrities, in hopes that they will re-tweet the message and photos to their millions of followers. And they have. Personalities from Ryan Seacrest to Anderson Cooper and Lady Gaga to Kim Kardashian have all re-tweeted.
According to Trendsmap.com, a website that tracks searches and Twitter mentions around the world, the #FindLauren hashtag on Twitter, which connects all the similar tweets, has been trending in the United States, England, Japan and India, among other countries.
Spierer disappeared 11 days ago after a night out with friends at Kilroy's Sports Bar in Bloomington. No arrests have been made in the case but police have identified 10 persons of interest. DNA samples have been gathered from several of these people who were allegedly among the last to see Spierer.
The petite blonde is 4-foot-11 and weighs less than 100 pounds. Originally from New York, she had just finished her sophomore year and was taking a summer class before heading to New York for an internship with Anthropologie. She is an apparel and merchandising major.
Time is also critical because Spierer has Long QT Syndrome, a disorder that causes potentially dangerous irregular heartbeats, for which she takes medication.
In the meantime, the virtual world will keep up their relentless search for Spierer. A tweet today from the NewsOnLaurenS account read: "We can't stop looking, blogging, posting, tweeting, talking, sharing, and hoping. We beg that you won't stop either. We have to #FindLauren."