Error 404 is a page that can frustrate internet users looking for web pages but now a coalition of charities has come up with an idea to put the page to good use.
A European initiative, The NotFound project, will use the pages to search for missing children. Images of the children will appear when users reach deleted web pages. Hosting firms, ISPs and media companies have already signed up to show the information on what would otherwise be empty pages.
The NotFound project has been created by a number of organisations, including Child Focus, Missing Children Europe, the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children.
NotFound believes that with 644 million websites worldwide there is huge scope to highlight the issue and is urging all people and businesses with a website to join the initiative to raise the profile of missing children.
While the standard 404 page is familiar to millions, many sites now have customised error pages to redirect users. NotFound provides sites with a piece of code that can be added to these pages and which will then display the missing child data each time a user lands on the 404 page.
Laurent Dochy, Digital Conceptor at Famous and creator of the NotFound project described the 404 page was “a cornerstone of internet culture”.
“An increasing number of websites designs have customized error pages that limit frustrations for the user. 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.”
Francis Herbert, Secretary-General of MCE said: “We are always looking for new communication channels to distribute missing children messages and increase the chances to bring them home."
Nearly 500 sites have already signed up to the NotFound initiative and reconfigured their 404 page to help.