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'Google Stalkers' troll for lost acquaintances

Savvy Web users are using Google and other powerful Web search tools to track down or keep tabs on long-lost acquaintances -- be they former lovers, classmates, friends or enemies.

These searches, which once might have required hiring a private detective, have become increasingly easy as the amount of data available on the Web grows. Sites like AltaVista, which indexed about 20 million Web pages when it was founded in the mid-1990s, now has information on billions of pages.

"If you think of the needle in the haystack analogy, that haystack has gotten a lot larger," said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch.com.

Google's ability to return relevant information has made it the first stop for many searchers checking up on people from their past from a comfortable distance.

Lynne, a newspaper editor in Washington, D.C said "This horrible guy I was dating at work (in New York) turned out to be a stalker and a freak. I heard from a friend that he had left New York and moved somewhere else, so I was all freaked out, like, what if he's following me? In paranoia, I Googled him".

Lynne determined that the man was living in Chicago, after finding a link to a local newspaper there that quoted him in an article. "The funny thing was his quote, which basically said 'I don't like women who are smarter than me,"' Lynne said. "So at least I know now why we didn't hit it off."

News source: Reuters

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