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August 24th, 2006

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05:59 pm - Lives of quiet desperation
in early August AOL released the search records from 500,000 (anonymised) users. This was for 'research' purposes. Following protest the data was removed from AOL's site but not before it had been nabbed by the mischievous.

Go here and type in a random number (not all numbers work) and you can read a list of all the search requests of a random user. (ETA - a better method is to select 'query search' and type in a word or phrase, and then pick one of the users listed, to see the full list of queries by that person)

This one for instance appears to show a person planning a murder (or writing a book about a murder?)

(nabbed from Blog Alkaline Earth) I strongly recommend following that link (above 'Go here ') and typing number 711391 to read "an unbelievable epic" of modern life. Try it.

Possibly two users, a female hypochondriac who hates birds, and a guy with a particular interest in pussies (could be the same person of course) plus a teenager looking for song lyrics and pics of Jake Gylenhaal. But who knows? It's like a short story made of google searches.

It's a long list but about half way down it picks up steam

search - hotels in san antonio
search - nervous about meeting online friend
search - continental airlines flights to san antonio
search - keeping busy can help your nerves
search - should you plan sex before meeting an online friend
search - mexican restaurant san antonio
search - how can I tell if spouse is spying on me online
search - i gave my heart to another man
search - married but in love with another
search - when you meet an on line friend and you don't like them
search - symptoms of herpes
search - when you have an affair you hurt yourself
search - does god forgive adultery
search - cutting ties after an affair

This is real life and it's painful to read it.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2006 06:00 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is the saddest, most fascinating thing I have read in a long time. And the fact that this sort of thing can end up in public is disturbing beyond belief.
[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
I am more engrossed in it as I read it more carefully. I found this search query poignant:

"how come some people can be intelligent yet very naieve"
[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
Buggered if I'm doing this; it would make me as bad as aol. How is this any better than reading someone's diary?
[User Picture]
Date:August 25th, 2006 06:27 am (UTC)
Because it's anonymous though
[User Picture]
Date:August 25th, 2006 04:06 pm (UTC)
Based on some of those searches, I bet it'd be easy enough with a bit of detective work to track these people down. It's been done with someone else already. If there's anything this whole AOL debacle has convinced me of, it's that "anonymous" really isn't.

I don't feel any guilt about reading the thing, but my initial impulse, as it is with cool stuff on the web was, "ooh, must link to this on my blog!" But two seconds of thought decided me there was no way I'm doing that. Dissmenating it further does feel to me like I'd be guilty of an invasion of privacy, and a much more deliberate and badly-motivated one than AOL's. (Which does raise interesting thoughts about morality and my take thereon, actually.)

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