AOL Just Wanted to Help Out The Elbow-Patch Jacket Set

The AOL user search queries data leaked on the internet were apparently posted by a technician who uploaded the data without vetting it through in-house privacy department, company spokesman Andrew Weinstein told WP.

AOL’s intent was to provide open source tools to academics researching the science of how people search for information.

In reporting the story, NYT gave the kill quote to Greg Linden, CEO of Findory, a news search company,

The uproar, he said, would hurt university researchers trying to explore new types of searches who did not have access to data about users. “This is going to slow progress of those who want to find ways to help people find what they are looking for faster,” he said.

Bad bloggers, pointing out privacy breaches! Although it’s beyond us why anyone would find the searches useful.

Did you see what these people typed in? Any librarian would self-combust at how poorly formulated the queries were. Didn’t anyone teach these people about Boolean operators?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Ben Popken says:

    Andy K writes:

    “You’ve gotta love this warning they threw into the readme.

    “CAVEAT EMPTOR — SEXUALLY EXPLICIT DATA! Please be aware that these
    queries are not filtered to remove any content. Pornography is
    prevalent on the Web and unfiltered search engine logs contain queries
    by users who are looking for pornographic material. There are queries
    in this collection that use SEXUALLY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE. This
    collection of data is intended for use by mature adults who are not
    easily offended by the use of pornographic search terms. If you are
    offended by sexually explicit language you should not read through
    this data. Also be aware that in some states it may be illegal to
    expose a minor to this data. Please understand that the data
    represents REAL WORLD USERS, un-edited and randomly sampled, and that
    AOL is not the author of this data.” “

  2. AcilletaM says:

    I think this is the better quote:

    “I don’t think there is a real privacy concern,” Mr. Linden said, “especially in a day when we see millions of credit card numbers leaked by one group and millions of Social Security numbers released by another government agency.”

    So it’s alright, because it was going to happen anyway so we might as well be the ones fucking you and who knows, maybe we can figure out a way to help you find your fetish porn faster while we’re at it.

  3. Morgan says:

    “Did you see what these people typed in? Any librarian would self-combust at how poorly formulated the queries were. Didn’t anyone teach these people about Boolean operators?”

    I think that’s why they’re doing the research; it’ll let those who have no idea how to properly format a query find their particular brand of porn or murder instructions much more easily.

  4. Triteon says:

    I disagree, Morgan. AOL users aren’t expected to know much about the workings of the internet, that’s why they’re on AOL (Ferrari notwithstanding).
    As for “leaked by one group” and “released by another”– those records weren’t leaked or released, they were lost or stolen. Let’s not confuse willful stupidity with unintentional stupidity, Mr. Linden.

  5. Morgan says:

    So you don’t think there’s an interest in making search engines (and therefore the internet as a whole) more accessable to those who know very little about search engines and the internet? I would think there’d be a great interest in making these tools more widely available, and therefore making it easier for the technologically inept to find what they’re looking for when they search.
    Or were you attributing the quote at the beggining of my comment to me? That was taken directly from the post, and is the sentiment I was trying to refute.

  6. Triteon says:

    Yes, I attributed the statment to you…all apologies.