Finding people on the Internet is not so easy

Suppose you need to find a person on the Internet. You want to hire someone new in the office and want to know about their professional career. Or you remember an old fellow student and want to know what happened to his life after graduation.

What do you usually do? Search on the Internet for the person of your interest. For this, the first options are Google (search engine), Facebook or LinkedIn (social networks).

But it’s not so easy. In this post I will list the 6 reasons why it can be difficult to find a real person on the Web.

Why is it difficult to find people on the Internet? 6 reasons

Common names and last names.

If the person you are looking for is called James Smith, I wish you good luck trying to hear from him. Take a shot on Google. The first thing you are going to find are both Facebook and Wikipedia pages inviting you to enter and choose which one of the «James Smiths» they have registered looks like the person you are looking for.

Shared name with someone famous.

It also happens that the results in Google «buries» anything you are looking for under thousands of references to one same person, the best known by that name. I don’t think that only happens with the unfortunates who are looking for a Nevada carpenter named Bill Gates. And it´s a nightmare when you try to find people online.

I wish you luck if you are looking for a girl named Kylie Jenner. In Google, for example, I don’t think you’ll find it easily. This is the influencers business: sometimes you don’t even have to be famous for a specific talent or company. At one point, you are a company yourself, and finding people on Internet with your name became very difficult.

You don’t even have to share a name with a person to be buried on the second page of searches, the one nobody opens. If you were called Rose Brown, it’ll be so hard to compete in positioning with a tone of hair of that color.

Hardly identifiable photos

Many people upload photos to their profiles in which other people appear. For example, a group of friends or a large family where several members are called the same. All this generates annoying confusion if you have little public information, besides the photo, to guide you in the task of finding some people on the Internet.

Even people who have had active lives on social networks, then stop relying on these tools and get rid of the habit of sharing photos of themselves. We are not even talking about those who decided to never use them.

Therefore, there are many profiles in social networks whose image is a shield of a football team, the photo of a pet or a cartoon character. If you do not remember the spelling of the name and other identifying information, you can do little to identify a person with such a photo.

There are also tendencies to share your own photos in profiles with low identifiability value: childhood photos, on your back, hiding your face, with a distorting filter, etc.

Unreliable profile information

Many people explicitly lie when creating profiles on social networks. And it is not too difficult today to fill several blogs, profiles and websites in which it appears that you live in Boston when you are really in Puerto Rico.

Fake Profiles

Fake profiles are a phenomenon of modern life. If you interact on Twitter with a “person” behind the screen there may be a bot or an individual who manages numerous profiles with a commercial or political intent.

The New York Times told the story of Renee Holland, a woman who was chatting for months with an alleged soldier to whom she sent money in gift cards and a care package. He even paid a ticket and went to the airport to receive a person who did not exist, on a flight that never left. This is one of the saddest scam forms: the one that takes advantage of human sensitivity.

Journalist Jack Nicas shared the story of Renee Holland, one of many who has been deceived by fake profiles

There are several types of fake profiles, depending on their functions.


A person who pretends to be an existing one. The objectives can be several: get some information or access by posing as someone you trust, make parodies of what a famous would say in social networks, easily articulate a community of followers around a known leader without being him.


Specific form of impersonation that uses the trust placed in an individual or company to obtain sensitive information such as credit cards or passwords.

He uses the practice of social engineering, which in computing is a principle that argues how users “are the weakest link” in any system.


It is a software that generates messages and conversation automatically on specific topics in social networks, often appearing to be a real person in them. In order to find people online, we must learn to identify some behaviors that reveal the precense of a bot.

They are use a lot to generate the feeling that a content is viral, or to validate an idea for the number of people supporting it. According to various media, social bots on Twitter had great influence dimming messages from Hillary Clinton’s campaign for Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 elections.

People without social networks.

Although in the 21st century is very rare; many people flee from having an online presence. Without social media profiles, the possibility of their appearance is limited to mentions in press media, blogs and other web sites, which are not always reliable. That could be another problem to find people online.

Can you imagine there was a tool which had only reliable information, verified from all over the world? Would you register to contribute to a common good? Tell us.

Featured photo: Madelin Ramirez

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Gabriela M. Fernández

Journalist with a vocation, doesn't lose hope of learning how to program. Hardcore cinephile, TV-show and technology addict... we could say a full-fledged millennial.

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