Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m paranoid. Seriously. I look over my shoulder when I walk home at night. I don’t accept phone calls from numbers I don’t know. It’s not a fear thing; it’s more irritation that I can be tracked down.
Which is why I am fascinated by all the little internet thingies that claim to be able to find personal information (location, phone number, etc.) if you only just plug in the name. I mean, are they accurate? Are some better than others?
I tried to use some of them to track down an old friend, but given that old friend’s name is Jen Jones, I had way too many results with no real way to tell if I was getting the right person.
So I decided to test some of them with my own name (I mean, I know my own information, right? I hope?) and here are the results:
There were a LOT of possible me’s, but, voila! There I was, nestled in between my name dopplegangers, there for the world to see. It even listed my correct age (and my middle initial!). However, they made a little mistake–I’m listed as living in my hometown, where I haven’t lived for over 6 years and definitely haven’t been registered at for almost 3. Still, pretty impressive.
Again, there I am, but, again, I’m listed at an old address. So I feel okay that, so far, I’m basically untrackable.
The Yahoo people search fails to find me at all. Surprisingly, I feel a little deflated. However, this particular search engine has a cool little additional feature: it also searches for articles with your name. I show up in a few of those. Neat.
Again, no sign of me in the sea of my name. Actually, this one is hardly a sea–it lists 11 results, about half of which are duplicates (in other words, it only found about 5 people with my name). Despite its lousy results, you are then offered “premium information,” like background checks and email lookup. Not too useful if you can’t even find the person you’re looking for.
This one scares me. Not only does it find me (and my correct age, albeit at an old address), it also finds my mom, my dad, and my long-deceased grandmother and lists them as “possible relatives.” Yikes. The good news is, you have to pay to get any real kind of information (phone number, email, etc.). The bad news is, it’s really, really cheap (basic level = $2.95).
This found me but placed me at an old address and with my parents’ home phone number (eep! I don’t want that out there!). It estimated my age range as a little bit older than I am, but only by a couple of years.
All in all, these things seem to be not completely accurate in finding a person, but helpful if you’re looking for a place to start. I am still both impressed and slightly freaked out. Use at your own risk of paranoia.
[Image courtesy of http://pro.corbis.com%5D