NYT: A Face Is Exposed For AOL Searcher No. 4417749.
And search by search, click by click, the identity of AOL user No. 4417749 became easier to discern. There are queries for “landscapers in Lilburn, Ga,” several people with the last name Arnold and “homes sold in shadow lake subdivision gwinnett county georgia.”
It did not take much investigating to follow that data trail to Thelma Arnold, a 62-year-old widow who lives in Lilburn, Ga., frequently researches her friends’ medical ailments and loves her three dogs. “Those are my searches,” she said, after a reporter read part of the list to her.
I spoke with one of the authors, Tom Zeller, late yesterday, and when he told me they’d easily found this woman, I was, in an odd sense, thrilled. In a way, this advances one of my goals – the silver lining of a data leak like this is that it allows the culture to have a conversation about what we’re getting into here by tracking all this data (the Times quotes me saying as much.) Kudos to the Times.