SOCIAL media sites like Facebook are regularly accused of things like perpetuating vanity, deteriorating our communication skills and providing a forum for negative behaviours like bullying.
But rarely does social media receive accolades for solving crimes.
Nicola Shelton's social media story has gone viral since her Facebook post helped her retrieve her stolen iPhone.
The 33-year-old Melbourne woman was in Byron Bay for Valentine's Day when her bag was stolen from cocktail bar Lala Land which contained her iPhone.
She rang Optus and cancelled the sim card but was informed the thief would still have access to the apps with wi fi because there was no pass code on the phone.
Four days later, her boyfriend asked her about a Facebook photo uploaded on her profile of a bearded man.
Thinking the thief had posted the selfie as a sort of taunt on her Facebook page, Ms Shelton shared the image with the status "this is the low life that stole my bag/iPhone and has decided to take a photo with my phone and post it on my Facebook".
The photo went viral and was shared 20,000 times. Within 24 hours Ms Shelton received a call from the Byron Bay police station informing her the iPhone had been handed in.
"It's amazing, I don't think people give enough credit to the power of social media," she said. "In less than 24 hours Byron Bay police were giving me a call saying my phone had been handed in.
"I honestly was just posting the photo to make myself feel better and I honestly didn't think anything would come of it.
"I was quite surprised by the number of shares it had."
The man who handed in her iPhone told police he had bought it from someone else and no one has been charged. While the thief didn't bother to sign out of Ms Shelton's apps, he or she did manage to go into the icloud settings, request a new password and turn off the 'find my iPhone' app.
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