First person identified from AOL Data: Thelma Arnold

On Sunday the news broke that AOL purposefully released 20 million partially anonymized search queries. On Monday AOL apologized, and later that evening the first web interface to the data went up.

Today the first person was positively identified from the data – Thelma Arnold, a 62-year-old widow who lives in Lilburn, Georgia.

Based on searches ranging from “numb fingers” to “60 single men” to “dog that urinates on everything,” the New York Times was able to quickly determine and confirm her identity. Ms Arnold is AOL searcher no. 4417749.

Ms Arnold commented: “My goodness, it’s my whole personal life…I had no idea somebody was looking over my shoulder.”

AOL replied: “We apologize specifically to her…There is not a whole lot we can do.”