Milk cartons were once commonly used to display pictures of missing children in hopes of getting clues to his or her disappearance. Now, a group called the NotFound Project wants to bring that tried-and-true method into the 21st century by publishing pictures of vanished children on the modern equivalent of wasted space: 404 error pages on the internet. The NotFound Project, which is a collaboration between two nonprofits called Missing Children Europe and Child Focus, asks websites to replace their generic 404 error pages with pages that inform the web users who've accidentally reached them about children from their area who are missing. Here, a guide to the innovative new project:
How does NotFound work?
Any website that wishes to participate can install a module available at NotFound.org. The module will convert their 404 pages into missing child alerts, which will update automatically when a new alert is filed or a child is found. (Watch a video explaining the NotFound Project below.) As more partners sign on, the project will utilize geo-location technology to show users children reported missing in their immediate areas.
What do the pages look like?
The revamped 404 pages have a banner that reads, "Page not found, neither is [child's name]," along with a picture and the words missing. The pages also include all available information, including age and last location seen, and the phone number for a missing children hotline.
Will this really help find missing children?
Yes. Though the use of 404 pages is new, the basic concept — spreading the photos of missing children to as many people as possible — is "by far the most effective way to help find them and bring them to safety," say the creators of the NotFound Project.
Where is NotFound available?
The pilot has already begun in Belgium, and Missing Children Europe, which has members in 19 other European countries, expects the project to expand quickly. Though the NotFound Project has no immediate plans to branch outside of Europe, project officer Valeria Setti predicts they'll eventually expand to the United States.