Back in the day, when children went missing, their photos got plastered on milk cartons. Now, two European nonprofits are trying to make that awareness-raising method relevant for the digital age. NotFound.org is a collaboration between Missing Children Europe and Child Focus, two nonprofits focused on supporting children who are missing or have suffered abuse. The idea is to encourage individuals and businesses (or anyone with a website, really) to take advantage of that digital dead space that any website proprietor has—the 404 error page—and do something productive with it, by putting up information about missing children.
Navigate to a nonexistent URL on the domain of a participating site, and you’ll land on a page that says "Page not found, neither is __" with the name of the missing child filling in the blank. Underneath those words is a photo of the child with the date he or she went missing, as well as age and hometown. The page also lists a Europe-wide information hotline for missing children and a link to the NotFound project.
The idea for the campaign grew out of the trend of more and more websites using the 404 page creatively, according to creator Laurent Dochy from the advertising agency Famous. "With the NotFound project we are, however, taking this one step further by giving these pages a reason to exist," Dochy says.
So far, several large companies including RTL, a media conglomerate based in Luxembourg, have pledged to get involved, and 1,600 websites are using NotFound’s 404 page. Visiting the website provides a quick walkthrough of how to get involved. Best of all, there’s no financial commitment required—just a desire to help.