Social media companies like Twitter and Facebook have taken a hit in the past few months. Facebook’s stock has been tumbling due to privacy concerns and its leaders are about to be brought before Congress here in the US and possibly Parliament in the UK. Throw in political censorship charges leading to a loss of users in these troubled times a feel good story is sometimes necessary to show the good that social media can do.

A group of school children and their teacher were cleaning a beach in Taiwan when one found something odd few weeks ago. It was encrusted in barnacles and barely recognizable, looking more like a rock than anything else. The only thing that distinguished this as a man-made object was the lens that was visible and barnacle free. A neat find certainly.

When the barnacles were cleared off it was found that it was a waterproof case for a camera and that the camera was still intact. The barnacles had covered the waterproof case but the case itself had not been compromised. Not only was the camera still in good shape but it even powered on. That presented a quandary for the teacher and his students, what do you do with it?

Should they just keep the camera since they found it? You know, finders keepers. Should they try to find the owner and if so how could they try to find the owner? The only way to do that was to look at the pictures on the camera and no one was sure what would be on the card or if would even have any images. The students voted to try to find the owner and they downloaded the images from the camera and found that the images were of what looked like young women scuba diving.

The next question was how to find the owner. Realistically there was only one way: social media. The story of the find as well as some of the images were posted on Facebook in both Chinese and Japanese. The story went viral but it was a longshot that the original owner would be found they thought. They shouldn’t have worried. Taiwan’s de-facto ambassador to Japan joined in figuring that the owner could have been Japanese and 10,000 Facebook shares and twelve hours later a Japanese university student saw the post and realized that her lost camera had been found.

She had been scuba diving near Okinawa in September 2015 when a friend had run out of air. When she moved to help her friend she dropped the camera. Figuring it was lost for good she let it go. The camera traveled hundred of miles over the course of over two years before washing up on that beach in Taiwan. The student intends to go to Taiwan to retrieve the camera and to thank the students for returning it when her school year is over. That is the power of social media. Of course it is also a testament of Japanese technology manufacturers that the camera powered on after two years at sea as well.

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