Invisible Friends campaign features missing Goondiwindi man Terry Lloyd

MUCH-LOVED DAD AND POPPY: Terry Lloyd, middle, eight months before his disappearance, with his family at his daughter Kaylah's wedding to Craig.
MUCH-LOVED DAD AND POPPY: Terry Lloyd, middle, eight months before his disappearance, with his family at his daughter Kaylah's wedding to Craig.

A new campaign to find missing people using Facebook’s facial recognition technology features Goondiwindi man Terry Lloyd, who disappeared in 2015.

Mr Lloyd’s daughter Kaylah Johnson said she and her siblings had “jumped” at the chance to take part in the groundbreaking project, Invisible Friends.

She has urged Facebook users to add the Invisible Friends profiles of her dad and the other nine featured missing people.

How it works

The hope is, through the power of social networking, the photos and videos of up to 1.5 million people will be able to be searched – electronically and automatically – for the faces of the missing people.

“It’s a great idea, and we’re pretty determined to jump at anything we’re given the opportunity to participate in,” Mrs Johnson said.

“If you’d been through what we’re going through, you’d know you would do just about anything to bring your person home.

“We’d give anything to get our dad home.”

The world-first campaign, developed by whiteGREY Australia for Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN), aims to harness Facebook’s facial recognition and auto-tagging technology in the search for missing people.

Even if the missing person appears only in the background of a photo or video, the Facebook algorithm will auto-tag their Invisible Friends profile and notify MPAN.

Mrs Johnson said it could be a long shot, but “you’re never going to know unless you give it a go”.

“Facial recognition on Facebook is a pretty strong thing to go off … so I believe if someone was to post a photo, we’d find him if he was in it,” she said.

Mr Lloyd, then 51, went missing on November 24, 2015, after telling his family he was going to buy some fuel and food.

His vehicle was found a little more than a week later in the Pilliga Forest about 150km south of Narrabri, crashed into a tree.

Despite an extensive search of the area by police, SES volunteers, NSW Fire & Rescue, Mr Lloyd wasn’t found.

He has had no contact with family or friends and hasn’t touched his bank account.

Come home, Poppy

Mrs Johnson said she and her six siblings “deal with it together” but “not a day goes by we’re not trying to do something to help find him”.

Mr Lloyd has several grandchildren, but the youngest few have never met him.

In fact, Mrs Johnson is pregnant with a boy, due in September – it will be her first child and she said she would give anything for his Poppy to be home with them.

“We carry on now with our lives – we have to, he’d want us to,” she said.

“Not a day goes by without him crossing our minds, but he wouldn’t want us to dwell on this to the point we can’t cope with everyday life.

“My sister got married last year, another one is being married in July, and the brothers had to step up and take Dad’s place to walk them down the aisle.

“On days like that, it hits us all pretty badly – when children are brought into the world, when we have exciting news we want to tell him about …

“But I’m sure when he comes home, he’ll be stoked to see how far we’ve come and the families that we’re raising.”

MPAN director Loren O’Keeffe said Invisible Friends was “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.”

Fact file: 

  • About 500 million photos and videos are posted to Facebook every day
  • Facebook’s facial recognition technology operates at an accuracy of 98 per cent, which is 13 per cent more accurate than that employed by the FBI
  • Each Invisible Friend can have up to 5000 Facebook friends
  • That, multiplied by the Facebook user’s average of 300 friends, means there is the potential for the photos and videos of 1.5 million profiles being searched, auto-recognised and tagged
  • MPAN and whiteGREY have created profiles only where there is an active police report and other strict criteria are met, to avoid privacy concerns for people who don’t want to be found
  • Source: Missing Persons Advocacy Network

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This story Add a Facebook friend, find a missing person first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.