updated 11:25 am EDT, Mon August 7, 2006
AOL Releases Search Data
Whether AOL likes it or not, its actions continue to make both positive and negative press. The latest story is one of apparent clumsiness with data. Recently, the company published a research paper online (still available at the time of this post) that studied user behavior during searches. By itself, the article is harmless and even quite interesting. What the publishers didn't consider were the ramifications of also including a compilation of the raw search data as a secondary file. Though the screen names were replaced with random numerical IDs, the data contained large amounts of what was sometimes very personal information that could be traced to specific people. AOL was quick to remove the data yesterday after realizing the potential danger, but it doesn't help the company's image after the large job cuts announced on Thursday.