Wednesday, 15 August 2007

People search engines

The concept of 'Googling' someone to find information about them online as long been popular for business or personal reasons, with sometimes surprising results. Some figures have placed searches for people at around 30% of total search traffic. The growth of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, as well as numerous personal blogs has also increased the amount of information available online about individuals.

There's now a growing trend for personal search engines to be launched, many of which scour the social networking sites to combine available information about people. The official launch of Spock this month follows the earlier start-up of Wink - both sites offering search access to people information and with ambitions to index information on every person that has some online presence.

Spock has been in beta for some time and claims to have over 100 million people already indexed by its search engine. Initially information is provided from data collected from other sources, but individuals have the option to take control of their profiles (a great way to attract traffic to the site) and to view which sources were used for the original information shown.

There are concerns about privacy and the widespread availability of information which could be used for identity theft, so the warning is to take care what information is being posted. Even so, these type of search tools could grow in popularity and become a valuable resource for a variety of reasons.

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