AOL Loves Privacy

On Monday a worker bee at AOL released data on 658,000 peoples search queries within a research section of their site. This is just one reason I don’t use AOL’s search.

Although the data doesn’t show screen names it still marks queries to a particular user via a random ID. Unfortunately, even with my copious amount of spare time, I haven’t looked at the data myself but I can imagine the kind of queries in there. The article below gives a sample of what was found but they tended to give some pretty “clean” queries. There’s gotta be some crazier queries than that. Maybe someone out there can let me know.

AOL Exposes Search Data On 658,000 People – From TechWeb

Update (8/10/2006): Someone got the data that AOL released and created a search tool to search through the search results. Kind of ironic don’t you think? You can find the AOL Data search application here: http://www.aolsearchdatabase.com/

It’s pretty crazy. You can search for a particular keyword or website found and then get a person’s unique identifier (which doesn’t give the location of that user). Then take that ID and go back to the search and you can get a listing of all of the searches done by that “ID” – and in turn find out that user 672897 has a broken brake cable on a Plymouth Breeze, is most likely female, wants to model and is tanning for it, lives in Connecticut, and wants to buy a monkey.

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