AOL releases search data, sets off flurry of speculation

AOL released a pack of search data for researchers, somebody found it, everyone is sharing it, marketers are drooling, and a couple of numbskulls are calling for AOL boycotts.

Ok, folks, quit your pissing. AOL might have made a dumb move here, but this is hardly grounds for a privacy-related lawsuit. The data doesn’t contain personally identifiable information, per se – search identifiers are denoted by numbers, not your name and street address. Yes, there are a lot of search results in there that the average joe might not want out in public, but I just have to say that if you are so bleeping stupid that you are going to open up you browser, and in a single session search for:

1) “child porn”
2) “local cocaine dealers – mytown, USA”
3) “how to kill your ex and not get caught”
4) your name
5) your social security number, and
6) your phone number

…then you likely deserve what is coming your way.

If you are a search engine marketer, I suggest you think long and hard about what you have, and how greedy you are willing to be – someone may be watching you already.

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