AOL Releases 500,000+ User Search Records

Internets are aflame overAOL ‘s publication of the search queries for 650,000+ users . This means that it shows what you typed into the AOL search engine, be it “hardball” or “hardcore.”

Some people consider it a privacy invasion, even though the user id’s are anonymized. 13SpiceyKandygrrl becomes User 10004.

You can download the full data set at one of the many working mirrors here. (A little bird tells us that a more user-friendly way to look the might be showing up soon…)

The point of the release seems to be to earn cred with data-mining orgs or any other research endeavor, or simply to put up the OPEN sign on the user info shop.

We’re going to use it for our science fair project this year. Watch out, electric potato!

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  1. Brianron says:

    You have got to be FREAKIN’ kidding me! They did what? Oh, right, they made the User names anonymous. Big deal. You don’t think someone somewhere will identify one of these users?

    Just when you think that AOL has sunk to the absolute lowest rung of the proverbial ladder of ethics and morality… Just when you thought AOL couldn’t do anything stupider… Couldn’t make any worse business decisions, they go and exceed everyone’s expectations with the crowning jewel in their crown of ignominy.

    I am an attorney and, regardless what the EULA and Terms of Service may say, I would salivate uncontrollably if I had a client who was a user and was able to be identified through this data. Releasing it to the Dept. of Justice is bad enough, but releasing it over the internet? Unbelieveable.

    Putting all that aside, this action and the type of information kept by AOL and the other providers or search engines (i.e. Google) has to send a shiver down the spine of everyone. The privacy advocates have often been dismissed as a bunch of Chicken Littles. Not anymore — they have just been validated 100%.

  2. Trackback says:

    Back in 2006, AOL embarrassed itself big time when it allowed a researcher to publish some 500,000 users’ search histories. Now, one of those user-logs is being transformed into a stage play, called User 927.