Well, basically this title attracted my attention: How to Do an Online Background Check for Free. I had to try it with myself. So I started, following the sites and suggestions in the article:

I clicked on the first link and landed on 9 Sites That Find People and Their 'Sensitive' Information – cool. Let’s try them:

  • Whitepages.com: No records on me (well, I do not live in the US…)
  • Peoplefinders: No success (well, I do not live in the US…)
  • FriendFeed: That has to be successful. It searches Twitter and Facebook – I am there. The search finds all my Twitter posts and all the references. Wow, that’s cool. I guess Twitter would have achieved the same directly…
  • iSearch then, maybe they are the right ones as the claim to be the world's leading People Search Engine: Five hits. One shows my Facebook and Blog profile picture (very impressive as a result) and the rest is simply useless (as it just shows a link) or wrong (my title is completely wrong, I never even had that one; my address is wrong, there is a typo in the right title…) but what they at least figured out was my gender: Roger Halbheer - Gender: Male – impressive and even correct!
  • Facebook: Well, that was easy. That’s where I would start first (besides bing and Twitter and Linkedin and Xing).

So, I went back to the initial article and am trying my luck there as they have a few good links:

  • OpenBook.org: They claim to search Facebook and the like – no results for me…

And then I started to skip the rest.

It was kind of interesting to see: Probably if you live in the US, the amount of public information available on the web is huge. If you are living in Europe, it immediately becomes much harder as we handle privacy differently. That you can get access to an address – if you decide to make your phone number public, which you do not have to – is kind of obvious (well, why? If you are looking for a phone number you do not need the address…) but criminal records? Come on…

If you look me up at Bing, you get something around 2300 entries, which is obvious as I blog, I speak at public events, I use Twitter etc. but the whole rest at least if partly hidden. I try hard as well that there are no public pictures of my kids on the web… That’s not necessary.

Anyway, that was an interesting experience to me.

Roger