Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

Be honest. Have you ever avoided doing a perfectly legitimate search because the keywords might attract negative attention?

By Andrew Pollack on 08/07/2006 at 05:26 PM EDT

The use of search engines is now ubiquitous. Whatever you want, start with Google or Yahoo or Ask. I wonder though, as we live in an increasingly paranoid and monitored culture how many people have now started rethinking their use of these tools for legitimate purposes because the terms they're interested in might look suspicious to someone.

If you read about the training I did for the Explorers last week, you may recall that we ran into a problem caused (we think) by the residue from tear gas or pepper spray (probably both) when the police used the training site not to far back. I was wondering if using dish soap and copious amounts of water would clean this and thought about doing a search for terms like "tear gas clean up" -- and then thought about just who might flag on a search term like that.

What about you? Do you hold off searching for odd things if you think it could raise eyebrows?

There are  - loading -  comments....

Not yetBy Jens on 08/08/2006 at 04:43 AM EDT
Hey, you have really a point that we all should be thinking about. Socialism à
la Soviet Union was broken because of the technological evolution, so that the
State of Supervision was no longer feasible. Seems, this time technology will
bring back that capability again, so that another culture may pick up a
"Supervisional Community". Thats scaring ....
My own thoughts on this are...By on 08/08/2006 at 07:34 PM EDT
You bet. I wouldn't be caught dead doing a search for how to "Replicate private
views." :)
Mary Beth
Have you seen the article about AOL searches?By Ben Langhinrichs on 08/13/2006 at 08:45 AM EDT
The URL I used was
ogin&oref=slogin but I don't know if you can get to it without a subscription.
An excerpt:

<like ones for her dog, Dudley, who clearly has a problem. No. 4417749 conducted
hundreds of searches over a three-month period on topics ranging from “numb
fingers” to “60 single men” to “dog that urinates on everything.”

And search by search, click by click, the identity of AOL user No. 4417749
became easier to discern. There are queries for “landscapers in Lilburn, Ga,”
several people with the last name Arnold and “homes sold in shadow lake
subdivision gwinnett county georgia.”

It did not take much investigating to follow that data trail to Thelma Arnold,
a 62-year-old widow who lives in Lilburn, Ga., frequently researches her
friends’ medical ailments and loves her three dogs. “Those are my searches,”
she said, after a reporter read part of the list to her. >>

Other Recent Stories...

  1. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism?Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? I read a really insightful post a couple of days ago that suggested the use of social network funding sites like “Go Fund Me” and “Kickstarter” have come about and gained popularity in part because the existing economy in no longer serving its purpose for anyone who isn’t already wealthy. Have the traditional ways to get new ventures funded become closed to all but a few who aren’t already connected to them and so onerous as to make ...... 
  2. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertisingAn increasing number of websites are now detecting when users have ad-blocking enabled, and refuse to show content unless you "whitelist" their site (disable your ad-blocking for them). I think that is a fair decision on their part, it's how they pay for the site. However, if you want me (and many others) to white list your site, there are some rules you should follow. If you violate these rules, I won't whitelist your site, I'll just find content elsewhere. 1. The total space taken up by advertisements ...... 
  3. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction[] “The Expanse” is a new science fiction series being broadcast onthe Syfy channelthis winter. It’s closely based on a series of books by author James S. A. Corey beginning with “Leviathan Wakes”. There are 5 books in the “Expanse” series so far. If you’re a fan of the novels you’ll appreciate how closely the books are followed.TIP: The first five episodes are already available on If you’re having trouble getting into the characters and plot, use those to get up to speed.The worlds created for ...... 
  4. 10/20/2015My suggestion is to stay away from PayAnywhere(dot)com  
  5. 08/07/2015Here is one for you VMWARE gurus - particularly if you run ESXi without fancy drive arrays 
  6. 08/06/2015The Killer of Orphans (Orphan Documents) 
  7. 06/02/2015Homeopathic Marketing: Traveler on my Android is now calling itself VERSE. Allow me to translate that for the IBM Notes community... 
  8. 03/17/2015A review of British Airways Premium Economy Service – How to destroy customer goodwill all at once 
  9. 02/26/2015There's a bug in how @TextToTime() and @ToTime() process date strings related to international standards and browser settings. 
  10. 01/21/2015Delivering two new presentations at Developer Camp (EntwicklerCamp) 2015 in Germany 
Click here for more articles.....

pen icon Comment Entry
Your Name
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
Your thoughts....
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.