In the last 30 years, the effort to find missing children has evolved from milk cartons and hotlines to Amber Alerts and Facebook updates. Now, a Brussels-based organisation is asking that website owners display images of missing children on their 404 error pages.
The effort, dubbed the NotFound project (see video, bottom), kicked off earlier this week and is a joint effort between Missing Children Europe (MCE) and Child Focus. Any website that wants to participate can download a file via notfound.org and integrate it into their site's code.
"The missing child message will then automatically invade the 404 page space of this website. After installation, which will only take a few minutes, everything happens automatically," NotFound.org said.
MCE said it has already signed up a number of high-profile, Brussels-based companies for the effort, but the group is urging anyone with a website to incorporate the NotFound code.
Pointing to the 644 million websites worldwide, along with the 1.3 million domain names in Brussels alone, NotFound ventured that "one soon realises how much space these error messages occupy."
"The idea of integrating missing person messages into 404 pages immediately seemed very interesting to us," Francis Herbert, Secretary-General of MCE, said in a statement. "We are always looking for new communication channels to distribute missing children messages and increase the chances to bring them home."
"The 404-page is a cornerstone of the internet culture. An increasing number of websites designs have customised error pages that limit frustrations for the user," said Laurent Dochy, digital conceptor at Famous and creator of the NotFound project. "With the NotFound-project we are however taking this one step further by giving these pages a reason to exist. The next step came easily: Page not found, neither is this child."
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