Facebook’s facial recognition used to help find missing people in WhiteGrey campaign

Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN) has launched an ‘Invisible Friends’ campaign which aims to use Facebook’s facial recognition tagging technology to help locate missing people.

Created by WPP’s WhiteGrey, the campaign uses Facebook’s inbuilt tagging capabilities to search for missing people in photos, even if they appear in the background of an image.

An example of the Invisible Friends Facebook page

The Facebook algorithm will auto tag the missing person’s profile and notify MPAN of the missing person identified in the image.

If a missing person is tagged in a Facebook photo, friends and family who follow their Facebook page will be notified.

Loren O’Keeffe, founder and director at MPAN, said in a statement: “Invisible Friends is an ingenious way to put artificial intelligence to work for a good cause, and carry out a task humans simply aren’t capable of.

“By searching through billions of posts per week, we’re not only raising awareness for the devastated families of these missing people, but also hope to put an end to their ambiguous loss, the most stressful type of grief.”

WhiteGrey and MPAN have only created profiles for missing people who have an active police report.

Anthony Moss, ECD at WhiteGrey, added: “This simple, creative idea has such immense potential because of its immediate, global reach. It’s been a very rewarding project to be involved in with Loren, and the hope is that we can roll this out around the globe to other missing persons organisations.”

This is the first campaign created since WhiteGrey’s new CEO, Lee Simpson, joined the agency in March.


  • Executive Creative Director – Anthony Moss
  • Writer – Nic Molyneux
  • Art Director – Benjamin Mann
  • Digital Producer – Matt Knight, Michelle McGrath, Alex Botterill
  • Digital Designer – Lauren Bowen
  • Developer – Yohan Mocho, Mathieu Mence
  • Editor – Leigh Cooke
  • Managing Director – Claudia McInerney
  • Account Director – Amy Ross
  • Account Manager – Holly Ryan, Harriet Lade

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