The released AOL search log release scandal from the weekend is getting worse as people start to successfully put names behind the assigned numbers.
The NY Times reports about the searcher with number 4417749 who was successfully identified as 62 year old Thelma Arnold from Georgia. She agreed to talk to a reporter after he read to her the searches she did on AOL.
AOL researches released 3 month worth of search logs from the AOL search engine to the academic community. They should have taken a closer look at what content they are actually putting out there for everybody to see. The replacement of names with numbers was a ridiculous attempt to protect the privacies of AOL users. This incident shows how much search engines now about us, especially if you have an account with the search engine company. They lure you in with personalization (e.g.: Google) or you have an account because the search is part of the online service you are using (e.g.: AOL).
AOL took down the log files already on the weekend (AOL also apologized for the mistake already), but of course the files (19 million search queries) have been copied before and are available on the net. Apparently other people have already been identified. Maybe you are next?
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