Searching the AOL Search Records

No doubt you’ve heard about AOL’s colossal screw-up, whereby they released hundreds of thousands of ‘anonymous’ search queries for the purposes of public research. Downloaders quickly discovered that because each search term is tagged by a user id, it is very easy to look at the search habits of a particular anonymous surfer and discover some very intimate details.

Well now an enterprising person has taken the 2 gigabytes of data, loaded it in a database, indexed it, and made it searchable.

It took me all of 30 seconds to find this gem. Seems some diabetic person is interested in property, hypodermic darts, and how to construct grenades. Perhaps he needs them to protect the gold claim that he plans to buy?

Loving it.

Update: looks like the search result I posted is screwed. The userID has disappeared completely. Either the owner of is removing some contentious results, or perhaps re-indexing the database.

Update 2: Yes it appears the original link is pretty broken. This search page seems to have the full database available, and now there are pages listing the most interesting/popular/bizarre search terms. Additionally it appears the first person (of many no doubt) has been positively identified from the data. Come on down Thelma Arnold. If a company could blush, I imagine AOL is bright crimson right about now.

Update 3: Oh dear god won’t somebody make it stop!? The unfortunate truth is that I don’t believe user 927 will be the worst uncovered.

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