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404 error pages to feature missing children notices

Children's charities are hoping to replace 404 website error pages with information about missing children in an effort to help find them.

In an inspired move by a collection of European child protection groups going under the name NotFound, 404 error pages on websites will soon feature information about missing children in order to attract attention to them and thereby increasing the chances of bringing them home.

The NotFound project, the BBC reports, is looking to website owners to display biographical details as well as photos of missing children and already has support from website hosting firms, Internet service providers as well as around 480 websites.

Sites that have agreed to sign up will be provided with small pieces of code that will display randomly chosen children from the missing children database. "It could be a recent disappearance, or a child that has been missing for a long time," explained Maryse Roland, a spokesperson for Child Focus. "This project will allow us to once again concentrate the attention on children whom we haven't heard of for many years [who] risk falling into oblivion."

404 pages are shown when you inadvertently navigate to a web page that doesn't exist if you've perhaps mistyped a URL on visit a page that has been removed. Typically these pages will display a generic message but increasingly, sites have used the 404 as a way of injecting a little extra humour into an otherwise broken page.

The new project however will give the 404 page a much more useful and important role and could help reunite lost children with their families.

You can head over to the NotFound website right now -- which, incidentally, has a missing child featured on its 404 page -- and find out more information. If you're a website owner you can sign up to the project too and pass the information along to other owners.