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I can't put a serious link up because I don't wanna link it. . .
June 19, 2001 3:18 AM   Subscribe

I can't put a serious link up because I don't wanna link it. . . I don't like the fact that if you have your address and number listed in the phone book, suddenly now if someone enters your name into Google along with the city you presumably live in: Your address and phone number come up. I use no other search engines, but I would presume the same happens there. These aren't the days of PENNSYLVANIA-65000 anymore Harrietta.
posted by crasspastor (42 comments total)

 
It is bad. But what is there to do? It's like complaining about roads making it easy for robbers to get away. We can't take the roads away.
posted by pracowity at 5:01 AM on June 19, 2001


I say we can! Let's get together and take back the roads, literally! No more roads! Roads are dangerous, they make crime easier! Back before we had roads, the place I live was free of crime. Let us go back to the bucolic splendor of roadless days, I say.

Sorry. I'm in a mood. I'm just glad I don't have a phone under my name. Of course, if you know my girlfriend's name, well...
posted by Ezrael at 5:10 AM on June 19, 2001


Whoa! It is true. Took me a minute to tweak the search details to yield the correct result. I do have a very common name so I scored two returns for the same city. Perhaps if we all change our names to a choice from a standard list of ten or a hundred...'Ello Bruce! 'Ello Bruce!
posted by Dick Paris at 5:26 AM on June 19, 2001


Whenever I get a new phone number, I tell the phone company I want to be listed in the book as "John Smith" or another common name. It's free, and has the same practical result as an unlisted number. Because I've been doing this for a few years, my address and phone number don't show up using this kind of Googling or in address directories like Switchboard and Dex.
posted by rcade at 6:03 AM on June 19, 2001


Holy crap! Good thing I'm moving in a couple months. Thanks, cp!
posted by starvingartist at 6:10 AM on June 19, 2001


the thing that kills me is that it actually works. i've never seen such an accurate address finder.
posted by o2b at 6:53 AM on June 19, 2001


Couldn't anyone do the same thing by finding your local white pages? I don't see this as a new threat, really. My local library branch has listings for the whole country. Isn't that the same thing?
posted by droob at 6:53 AM on June 19, 2001


I couldn't get it to work, what is the syntax?
posted by corpse at 6:58 AM on June 19, 2001


Yes, but you can opt out here. Which isn't as good as opting in, of course, but at least it's an option, fairly clearly offered.
posted by matt8313 at 7:16 AM on June 19, 2001


For some reason, it doesn't appear to list an apartment number (at least in NYC) along with the address. I tried about 15 people I know here, all were correct addresses (although some were out of date) bt not a single one included the apartment number, which makes it pretty useless for many things.
posted by matthew at 7:16 AM on June 19, 2001


There is a removal page here.
posted by mimi at 7:18 AM on June 19, 2001


d'oh! Sorry. Too slow.
posted by mimi at 7:18 AM on June 19, 2001


Well, I did this, and guess what? Typed a few names in, and found out completely by chance that MY EX WIFE KILLED SOMEONE. Thanks, everyone. My name doesn't come up, but this made my day.
posted by bradth27 at 7:23 AM on June 19, 2001


What makes this earth-shattering? The same database you fear here powers Verizon's "local and national 411" service, among other things.

Most people are listed in a regular phone book; this is just the same info on a grander scale. Go into any large public library and you can look this up by hand nationwide.

I refuse to be startled by the fact that the Internet provides the same information as the post office and the map company.
posted by werty at 7:25 AM on June 19, 2001


This is a CONSPIRACY to make it easier for MICROSOFT and the ILLUMINATI to round people up with the PURGES happen. All they need is a Windows 98TM COMPUTER with internet access and they can just LOOK YOU UP.

Hang on, there's somebody at the door.
posted by RylandDotNet at 7:38 AM on June 19, 2001


the ILLUMINATI to round people up with the PURGES happen.

That's right, just recently a nice man from the Illuminati came by and purged the print spool on the server. The printer came back on-line just like magic.
posted by skallas at 7:45 AM on June 19, 2001


Since my name, address and phone number are generally publicly discoverable through any number of sources, I guess I'm not bothered at all by this.

In fact, there have been so many bad online "white pages" services over the years, that if this turns out to be the least bit reliable I can see using it to look up people all the time.
posted by briank at 7:47 AM on June 19, 2001


Well, I did this, and guess what? Typed a few names in, and found out completely by chance that MY EX WIFE KILLED SOMEONE.

I'm almost afraid to ask this after reading the story, but why'd you two break up?
posted by rcade at 7:55 AM on June 19, 2001


RylandDotNet: Hang on, there's somebody at the door.

Mr Ryland, we're from Microsoft and we're here to help you.
posted by davidmsc at 8:15 AM on June 19, 2001


"suddenly now if someone enters your name into Google along with the city you presumably live in: Your address and phone number come up."

Not only that, but I heard resently that the phone company was pulishing A WHOLE BOOK of phone numbers for everyone in San Doego, and then sending the book to EVERYONE IN TOWN!!!!!

This is an outrage! Does my privacy mean nothing to these people? I suppose next they'll actually let people call up from ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY and just ask for my phone number!
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:16 AM on June 19, 2001


I tried to find myself, but could only find out where I used to be. Where am I now? And how will I contact myself?
posted by iceberg273 at 8:42 AM on June 19, 2001


It isn't the information being out there that is scary, but the immediacy of it - read a webpage of someone who is pissing you off? 6 clicks of the mouse gets you where they live, their phone number, all sorts of information on them.

Nutjobs used to have to work a lot harder to be nutjobs - checking out the reverse lookup at the library, for example. Now, they can be crazy and fearsome with far less effort.
posted by kristin at 9:13 AM on June 19, 2001


I'm just glad I don't have a phone under my name. Of course, if you know my girlfriend's name, well...

The thing I find most surprising and alarming about all this is that Matt apparently has a girlfriend. ;-)
posted by bradlands at 9:14 AM on June 19, 2001


No more roads!

If popular support is thrown behind this, the last obstacle preventing libertarianism from flooding over us will be removed! All hail freedom!
posted by thirteen at 9:30 AM on June 19, 2001


Kristin hit the nail on the head. It's one thing to list published phone numbers -- but maps right to people's doors? Thank you for giving any psycho who wants to find me everything that he would need in less than 15 seconds, Google. I really appreciate that.

Plus, there's the point that when you get a phone number, you are asked if you want to be published in the local phone directory. No one is asked if they want to be Googlised to this extent, but in order to avoid it, (or better put, to undo it) you have to know how to find the opt-out. My great aunt, who is 74, lives alone, and wouldn't know Google from Boggle is listed. She has never touched a computer. How does she opt out? How does she know that she has to?
posted by Dreama at 9:30 AM on June 19, 2001


I have a published number BUT with no address. So my phone may be available to those who are looking for me but I am the one who tells them where I live.

I've looked at multiple online white pages and my address is never given. Phone number, yes. City yes. Wrong zip code, always (don't know why but that's fine with me).
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:48 AM on June 19, 2001


This sort of information has been online long before Google came along. If you don't have a published phone number it's highly unlikely it will ever get to Google. This is really no different than any other publicly available information moving into the Internet realm.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:53 AM on June 19, 2001


"any psycho who wants to find me"

Who are these psychos who want to find you? Seriously.

If someone is really so worked up over you that they would *actually* do something bad with your address or phone number, then of course they would go to the library, call information, or whatever to track down the info.

You seem to be arguing that now that this info is on Google, suddenly there will be more psychos in the world. Or more people will be willing to break the law.

The idea that people will be more likely to commit a criminal act because they have easier access to your address is paranoid. Someone would have to be seriously messed up to want to hurt your great aunt. At that point I doubt they would baulk at driving over to the library or calling information.

Just as always, if you want to protect your personal information, you have to do some leg work. This was just as true before the Internet as it is now.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:13 AM on June 19, 2001


"I have a published number BUT with no address. So my phone may be available to those who are looking for me but I am the one who tells them where I live. "

Not really. The Reverse Directory connects every telephone number (including 'unlisted' numbers) with addresses, but not always with names. So as long as someone has one piece - address, or phone number, they can always get the other.
posted by kristin at 10:18 AM on June 19, 2001


And I see a definite gender split on this issue - women are a little freaked out, men don't care. Wanna take a guess as to why that is? (extra credit for going *really* off topic!)
posted by acridrabbit at 10:28 AM on June 19, 2001


there are "white pages" all over the net. every time I come across one, I opt out.

what I hate most are the ones that list your name, address, a map to yoru door, and then say "find a list of restaurants in rebecca's neighborhood", "send rebecca flowers", "find bookstores near to rebecca". it's like a cookbook for stalkers.

if someone wants to stalk me, by God they at least have to do the legwork themselves. - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 10:31 AM on June 19, 2001


Who are these psychos who want to find you? Seriously.

I think we're clear of psychos for the time being, but in the line of work that my husband and I share, psychos are an occupational hazard. I think about them and the things that they do as a matter of course.

You seem to be arguing that now that this info is on Google, suddenly there will be more psychos in the world. Or more people will be willing to break the law.

No, I'm arguing that before people - psychos or otherwise - could get one-click access to all of my information, it would've been nice for someone to have received my permission, that's all. Authorising Verizon to print a number in their phone books doesn't equate giving Google permission to republish it (especially in this format) online.
posted by Dreama at 10:32 AM on June 19, 2001


This wasn't just a link to vent some ineffable paranoia. I've always found numbers and addresses and yes, looked to see if I finally had my very own listing in USWestDEX/QwestDEX. It's just, this is SO easy! Agreed no, it's not earthshattering.

Again. . .It is just so freakin' EASY!!!!
posted by crasspastor at 10:40 AM on June 19, 2001


I still don't see what's new here - even the map-to-your-door thing was on Anywho at least four years ago...
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 11:05 AM on June 19, 2001


And just to add the .02 worth, on stalkers, I did have a stalker during that time too, and they were too stupid to use a service like this. As long as I keep lucking out in attracting the dumb ones, I'll be just fine...
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 11:06 AM on June 19, 2001


I wish someone would look me up and come knocking on my door, unemployment is so boring...
posted by Hackworth at 11:44 AM on June 19, 2001


i'm not in here at all, which is fine with me. i move so often (at least once a year.) it would be difficult to track me down.

as far as putting yourself as "john smith" in the phone book, i know for a fact that Qwest won't let you have a different name with the number. either you're listed or not. (this stemming from an incident where a friend wanted to be listed as cool, doctor so that when he called people the caller id would say "DOCTOR COOL." qwest told him that he'd have to legally change his name. it was funny though.)

and briank: dude. killed someone? you should have googled her a long time ago.
posted by sugarfish at 12:13 PM on June 19, 2001


I find it quite amusing that my site, having both my name and city of residence in the title, comes up if you Google search me. So I stymied their feature by taking advantage of their regular search technology.

And, obviously, I control what information I make public on my site.
posted by anildash at 12:17 PM on June 19, 2001


I am waiting for license plate links to addresses. The next person that cuts me off while I'm trying to walk to work gets a fresh turd mailed to their doorstep.
posted by mecran01 at 12:26 PM on June 19, 2001


and briank: dude. killed someone? you should have googled her a long time ago.

Go back and check that, sugar....it's bradth27 whose ex did the killing.
posted by briank at 12:31 PM on June 19, 2001


Kristin hit the nail on the head. It's one thing to list published phone numbers -- but maps right to people's doors?

Maps! Yes, maps never existed before the Internet, you know.

Actually, given my experience with online map sites, they would pretty well keep people from finding me. My teachers got totally lost trying to find Holland High School from Yahoo! Maps, and our directions from Mapquest to get to Lisa's told us to turn down this drive (which was actually unmarked) and essentially go through someone's parking lot rather than making one of those delayed left turns.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:35 PM on June 19, 2001


I think that it's ironic that on an opt-out page where, presumably, people would be using it to protect their privacy, they ask for an email address. It doesn't seem to be a required field, thank goodness, but I only know that because I left it blank when I submitted. There's no visual clues that some fields are optional.

So what happens next? Google will publish an email directory as well. (Hello spammers...) So what piece of information will they ask you to give up in return for your privacy then?

Hmmmm.....
posted by fooljay at 4:51 PM on June 19, 2001


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