Wink, the search engine that lets you search user profiles across many social networks, has announced that it has indexed a whopping 500 million profiles worldwide – double the number it had twelve months ago. Wink also predicts similar growth in the future, with a projected 1 billion profiles indexed over the next year.
Wink originally launched back in 2005 as a user-enhanced search engine that asked the crowd to help tag and rank search results. The site transitioned to a search engine for people in fall 2006 and went on to partially liquidate, explaining that the company’s new direction was not what investors had originally signed up for.
The site now allows users to search for someone’s online presence across a variety of social networks, including MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Bebo, Friendster, and a number of others. Information available for each profile depends on the privacy settings on each network, but generally includes at least links to their profiles along with a photo to make sure you’ve found the right person.
The milestone is significant, assuming the majority of the profiles represent legitimate people and aren’t simply names with no associated information. But while the growing repository of profile data may prove useful, the site has adopted some irritating advertising and affiliate schemes – for example, results often include links to profiles on PeopleFinders, which are only visible after becoming a paying member of the site.