404 Error Page Helps Find Missing Children
September 28, 2012

Project Uses 404 Error Pages To Help Find Missing Children

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Hundreds of website owners will soon begin displaying photos and biographical details of missing children on “404 File Not Found” error pages, thanks to the work of a new European initiative dubbed the NotFound Project.

The organization, which was created by Missing Children Europe, Child Focus, the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children and several other European organizations, has already signed up nearly 500 participating websites and is actively recruiting more.

A 404 web page is displayed when a person navigates to a site that doesn't exist or has been removed. These pages typically display a generic “404 File Not Found” error message. But the NotFound Project seeks to give the error pages a much more useful and significant role that could help locate missing children and reunite them with their families.

Websites that wish to participate in the program can simply install a module that converts their existing 404 pages into the missing child alerts from a continuously updated database. Once a website has enlisted in the program and loaded the software, information about a missing child will be displayed every time the page is accessed.

Maryse Roland, a spokeswoman for Child Focus, explained that an algorithm will randomly determine which missing child is featured on a each ℠Not Found´ website.

"It could be a recent disappearance, or on the contrary, a child that has been missing for a long time," she told BBC News.

"This project will allow us to once again concentrate the attention on children whom we haven't heard of for many years.”

"These children risk falling into oblivion.”

The project currently profiles missing children in the European Union, but that could change in the future if the project catches on worldwide.

"We are always looking for new communication channels to distribute missing children messages and increase the chances to bring them home,” said Francis Herbert, secretary general of Missing Children Europe.