We’ve had a lot of fun with the AOL search results leak. In fact, some people have been confused by our glee in posting some of the more hilariously depraved records. Don’t we care about privacy?
Well, yes, we do. But first of all, the information is already out there — we can’t ignore it. Furthermore, we’re confident no one’s going to be able to figure out who the “Do niggers have X-Ray vision?” guy is, because he hasn’t searched for any personal information. On the other hand, we certainly wouldn’t post the user records of some granny who searched for her credit card or social security number via AOL. Mostly because that’s just not funny, but also because we wouldn’t want to help get her identity stolen.
That said, many people do search for their credit card numbers, social security numbers or names to see if they’ve somehow been leaked to the web. Ironically, these people have now had all of the information they most feared leaked to the internet. Right now, hundreds of identity thieves are doubtlessly scanning AOL’s logs, looking for such information. Which is why this is such a nightmare, not only for AOL’s users but a company whose violation of users trust has been exposed time and time again over the past few months.
If you’re wondering what AOL’s search gaffe means for you and what potential dangers there are, as well as ways to protect yourself from similar leaks in the future, Wired News has posted an excellent primer on the subject.
AOL’s Search Gaffe and You [Wired]