Missing Kids & The Web

(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
The Internet has long played a role in helping find missing children; organizing support, getting tips, discovering someone's chat history. And by now we've all heard the warnings when it comes to children falling victim to online predators. But in my experience it's rare to discover that a missing child may have had a presence on the Internet – while he was missing.That could be the case with Shawn Hornbeck, the now 15-year-old boy who disappeared in 2002. Speculation is that he may have created personal profiles on sites like Yahoo! and MySpace among others.

Could these sites act as clues for investigators? The hard part can be sifting through all the information out there, with more than half of online teens creating a personal profile, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. And many teens are savvy enough to shield their details from public view.

It will be tough to ever know the truth with Shawn Hornbeck – whether he posted them, his accused kidnapper, or someone else – but it clearly raises questions about how clues in the virtual world could bring more reunions in the real one. More tonight on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.