What the Web knows about you

How much private information is available about you in cyberspace? Social Security numbers are just the beginning.

For good measure, I also searched the Techmeme , Technorati and Computerworld sites directly, assembling a long list of stories I had authored, as well as comments about those stories and contact information.

Source: Image search

Information discovered: Computerworld publicity photos, Flickr photos

Here I stuck with Google Image Search and Flickr . The 429 Google image results included dozens of Robert L. Mitchell photos, but the correct one was buried five screens down in the results. Also, displayed were photos of people whom I have interviewed for Computerworld stories.

Flickr searches on variations of my name produced no photos of me, but I was able to find my account by searching members with the name "Robert Mitchell." On the third screen, my photo appeared next to an account name. By matching that photo with the Computerworld publicity photo, I was able to identify myself.

From there, I was able to view several hundred publicly shared photos associated with that account. But like much of the content on Flickr, those images are untagged. Finding photos of me in the long list was a painstaking process.

Information discovered: Computerworld stories, blog posts, social network friends and co-workers

Here I searched individual social networking sites, as well as two search tools that promise to provide information from social networking sites: Delver and iSearch .

With iSearch, users can search for social network content by name or by screen name. A name search on "Robert L. Mitchell" produced the same people search results I had seen before, and searches on all my screen names produced no results. A spokesperson stated that iSearch, a service launched by Intelius last September, was still building up the database for the service.

Delver, another social network search engine, indexes content and ranks its relevance based on what your social network of "friends" have to say about it. It indexes content from MySpace, Blogger, LinkedIn, YouTube, Hi5, FriendFeed, Digg and Delicious, as well as profile data from Facebook. A search on "Robert L. Mitchell" brought up 47,755 Web links. I found no personally identifying information but did find links to stories I have written.

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Robert L. Mitchell

Computerworld
Topics: privacy
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