At 1 a.m. on May 7, the website PatientsLikeMe.com noticed suspicious activity on its “Mood” discussion board. There, people exchange highly personal stories about their emotional disorders, ranging from bipolar disease to a desire to cut themselves.
It was a break-in. A new member of the site, using sophisticated software, was “scraping,” or copying, every single message off PatientsLikeMe’s private online forums.
There’s a huge and growing market for deep Web information for marketing, competitive intelligence, background checking and other purposes. The deep Web isn’t just about finding scholarly documents in scientific, technical, or business journals. Private information on web forums may not be as private as we would like.
The market for personal data about Internet users is booming, and in the vanguard is the practice of “scraping.” Firms offer to harvest online conversations and collect personal details from social-networking sites, résumé sites and online forums where people might discuss their lives.
If you thought that you were safe because you don’t use your real number in online forums, think again:
New York-based PeekYou LLC has applied for a patent for a method that, among other things, matches people’s real names to the pseudonyms they use on blogs, Twitter and other social networks. PeekYou’s people-search website offers records of about 250 million people, primarily in the U.S. and Canada.
Read the whole WSJ article here.
Tags: federated search