French police end missing persons searches, suggest using Facebook instead

A century-old administrative procedure has been made obsolete by the Internet, according to the Ministry of the Interior

The latest victim of disruption by Internet technologies is a veteran of World War I: the missing persons search.

French police will no longer search for adults reported missing by their families unless there are signs that the person is in danger. The police have abandoned searches in progress and stopped accepting new search requests, according to an announcement on a government website Monday. The changes took effect on Friday.

Such "searches in the interests of the family" were conducted under an administrative procedure almost a century old, introduced to help families separated during the upheavals of World War I to find missing relatives, according to the French Ministry of the Interior.

Requests for the searches have fallen considerably in recent years, and are now most often used to find those behind on alimony payments, the Ministry said in a letter to police chiefs announcing the changes last month. The letter instructed them to refuse further requests, adding: "You can direct people towards social networks on the Internet, which offer interesting possibilities."

Searches will continue for minors, and for those who disappear in worrying circumstances -- for example those with suicidal intent, or victims of a crime -- as they are conducted under a different procedure.

The Ministry attributed the decline in search requests to the rise of the Internet. Social networks, where people feel compelled to publish details of their movements and moods, make it much easier to trace or get back in touch with people after losing contact.

Indeed, there are numerous examples of families reunited through social networks or other online tools -- although sadly many others are still searching.

Most recently, those affected by the tornado that struck the town of Moore, Oklahoma, have turned to Facebook to search for missing family members, with some success.

When even larger natural disasters strike, Google often turns on a service called Person Finder. Created in response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, it invites families to post details of missing relatives, and crowd-sources sightings or information about them.

Google Person Finder was also used following the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, on a number of occasions in 2012 to help victims of floods in the Philippines after a succession of tropical storms and typhoons battered the island of Mindanao, and most recently following the bombing of the Boston marathon.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags social mediainternetsearch enginessocial networkingInternet-based applications and servicesFrench Ministry of the Interior

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2018

Roam freely in the digital world. Critically acclaimed performance and security at your fingertips.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?