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find people on the internetIn today’s Internet world of booming social networks, it’s easier to find lost friends and colleagues than it ever was before. In fact, the private world of yesterday is now an online world with open access to social networks, government databases, and public records. If you’re looking for a long lost friend, or maybe want to do a background check on someone, consider the following free resources to find people on the internet.

Crawl the Internet

The Internet is essentially a giant database, overflowing with data points about individuals. Today, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t commented on a blog entry, made a post in an online forum, or registered at Facebook or Flickr. The Internet is filled with opportunities to create a profile, and every single profile provides the Internet with additional data points about you that people can use to find you when they need to.

There are many websites that search standard social networks like MySpace or Facebook, but Pipl Find A Lost Love Or Friend with Pipl Find A Lost Love Or Friend with Pipl Read More is one resource that conducts a “deep web” dig for the name you’re looking for on “non-typical sites.” The search results from Piple are pretty impressive.  You can read about how to use Piple at this article Find A Lost Love Or Friend with Pipl Find A Lost Love Or Friend with Pipl Read More by Karl. Conducting a deep search for myself, I found that the results covered data pulled from profiles at MySpace, Facebook, and countless other sites like article directories and blogs. I was especially impressed by Piple’s efforts to dig for email addresses and content within miscellaneous web pages.

Another powerful search is Google’s Blog Search which will find anyone who has published to a blog on the Internet.  The results on this search turned up my published articles at MakeUseOf, those at my three blogs, and even articles that I wrote for clients and had completely forgotten about.

Probably the most powerful tool to find someone who may have only posted to the internet a long time ago is Google Groups.  Google Groups has incorporated over 800 million Usenet messages into its database, an impressive 20 year’s worth of Internet conversations dating back to 1981.


By far, one of the best search engine crawlers for finding people through searching all types of Internet content is 123people. I found that this website was able to find more accurate hits when I searched for myself than most other identity search engines.

Just a straight search without location found dozens of weblinks blogs, social network profiles and documents, most of which were an accurate hit. Needless to say, I’d recommend 123people to anyone looking to find if anyone they know has any content whatsoever published on the Internet about them.

Searching Social Networks

Social networks are very hard to avoid on the Internet. It’s impossible not to get sucked into a forum discussion, a Facebook group game, or connecting with industry leaders on LinkedIn. Because of this, the odds are very good that the person you’re looking for has registered and created a profile in at least one of those networks.

YoName is one free website that searches through a list of over thirty popular and obscure social networks including Imeem, LinkedIn, FaceBook, MySpace, Yahoo 360, Flickr, and Zorpia. We’ve examined it before 3 Ways To Find People With Social Search Engines 3 Ways To Find People With Social Search Engines Read More at MakeUseOf. The results are displayed in tabular format so you can select which social network search to focus on. I found that YoName could only find a few of my online profiles.

Wink searches social networks such as MySpace, Reunion, LinkedIn, Friendster, and others. Wink results were somewhat limited though, with only 28 results and only one of those was an accurate “hit.”

Spokeo is a powerful social network tool that searches through a huge list of social networks and websites. It discovers things that aren’t very easy to find, like hidden Facebook profiles, posts or comments to YouTube, blogs or comments on Blogger, accounts on Flickr, Twitter, WebShots and more. The results are comprehensive and include results from over 40 major websites.

The only drawback is that to sign up you have to provide Spokeo with your email address and password so that it can actually access your email account and extract your contacts.

Jobs and Companies

If you know where someone works, but you don’t have their contact information, then tracing them by company or industry is your best option. There are several tools available that can help.

Jobster is a large database of job listings where you can find people not only by name, but within a certain industry or specific company. You can sift through the huge database of folks who’ve added their profile to Jobster in hopes of landing employment.

Another great industry search site is ZoomInfo, which is focused on company details. If you have a profile on the internet that lists your affiliation with a company, the odds are good that you’re in the ZoomInfo database. I even found myself listed in the database as co-owner of RealityUncovered, which is true, but it was only part of a few online profiles – meaning ZoonInfo can crawl profiles for company affiliations. Very impressive.

Online Public Records Search

Of course, if you’re conducting a full background check on someone, then you’ll want to find the following information:

  • Residences over the last few years
  • Criminal record check
  • Driving record
  • Birthday and birth location (for citizenship verification)
  • Child predator check

If a person has a criminal record or any court ruling, it’s amazing how much information you can find about it online.  If you know a name and birthdate of the person you’re looking for, that’s all you really need – although the location information would make the search go even more smoothly.

Zaba Search is one of the best sites for conducting free public records queries. Using Zaba Search, you can determine a person’s exact past and current addresses and phone numbers. If you want a detailed report of all past addresses, relatives, criminal history, bakrupcies, small claims judgments and more, it’ll cost about $50 through Intelius. You can also conduct a phone number search, which is nice if you receive a prank phonecall from someone you don’t know. It will give you the latitude and longitude of the location, but for specific details you need to purchase an Intelius reverse lookup.

Google Government search sets the bar high with the ability to search through government news reports and even government websites. By searching names, you’ll often discover someone involved in government research, grants, or non-profit activities.

If you suspect the person you’re looking for is in prison, then search the state or federal inmate locator directories.  Just pick a state, or search through the federal system. provides a huge database for all state and federal agencies. Most services where you need to pay for background details on a person come from these free state and federal agency databases. You can find the data for free by searching through this website to find those agencies and conducting the search yourself.  For example, digging through the state of Maine agencies I found where you can search through Maine criminal records.

Criminal Searches[update: link no longer relevant] is one of the first truly free search websites that allow you to call up the criminal records of anyone based on name, location, birthday or age range.  To test it, I searched for the record of a person in California who I know, from previous research, has a criminal record there.  Sure enough, Criminal searches found it.

The results also offer the source of information (court office) where you can send for a copy of the entire case records (for a fee).  Is this easy online access freedom of information or invasion of privacy?  Should your criminal records be on public display on the Internet?  Or is it more important for the public to know who the former criminals are and where they live? Either way, Criminal Searches is leading the way in making this information both public and very convenient.

Make it Simple

When it comes right down to it, you want to be able to find someone quickly and free.  The sites above will help, but in most cases you’ll need to at least learn a few details about the person, like their birthday or the state they live in.  Once you have those details, the volume of information you can find online about a person is amazing, and at times shocking.

Have you ever tried to search and find people on the internet? Do you feel easy access to personal records is an invasion of privacy or an important public right? What other free online people search tools do you know about for looking for people? Share your opinions and sites in the comment section below.

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  3. Lim Zel
    December 5, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Helpful commentary - I am thankful for the analysis - Does someone know if my assistant might get a fillable a form version to fill in ?

  4. Matt
    March 22, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Has anyone tried to find someone?

  5. Data Profiling Services
    February 9, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Nice blog with very interesting topic.

  6. Nicholas Dean
    February 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    My website, is a database of people i have put together, It's free to use and found no place else on the web. Hope it's of help to some of you.

  7. janelle
    January 5, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I wanted to say that I wasn't impressed with the criminal search link. I was looking to see if someone had a criminal record outside the county I had searched and it only pulled up one of his violations. When I searched the free searchable database for that county I came up with a long list of offenses. On the bright side I will say that once the kinks are worked out it will be a great asset.

  8. areapal
    December 10, 2009 at 2:17 am

    Wow! cool article. just now only i know this kind of platform have to find a people who are in online.



    • ronfreeday
      June 1, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      On the internet you can get a lot of information about people and their tastes. Much of the information found on social accounts, where many people opens and puts a lot of private information about themselves and their preferences. Such places as Whitepages are also a source of much interesting information. After all, if you're looking for an employee then you may want to find out if there is no account for crimes court judgments. Very nice article.

  9. Eastmobiles
    November 13, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Interesting, but do they really work? Thanks!

  10. Tom Forbes
    October 15, 2009 at 1:13 am

    ps thank you for the links for finding people and the others that added more they were very helpful. :) the criminal search I am questioning because I know I have a record and when I searched for my name it came up with nothing.So not sure that it works.

  11. Tom Forbes
    October 15, 2009 at 1:09 am

    You ever think this is exactly what the person who left that comment was hoping would happen? Everybody freaking out or trying to piss somebody off? That is why I dont take anything left as a comment serious even this.

  12. Skipease People Search
    August 5, 2009 at 11:45 am

    A great list of free people search and public records sites listed. We just released a people search, web search and public records toolbar addon for Firefox that includes many of these sites on it.

  13. synodinos
    February 19, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Have you seen: ?

  14. Aibek
    February 4, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Pete

    Thanks for clarifying this to us. I will check the server logs shortly! We already know the IP address of the guy. I will see if it matches anything from the past.


  15. Linda
    February 4, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Considering the topic of the article , it's rather funny (ok, not very funny) and ironic at the same time.

  16. Pete Cashmore
    February 4, 2009 at 1:36 pm


    Thanks so much for moving quickly to resolve this and clear my name.

    MakeUseOf is an excellent site and I wish you all the best.

  17. Raju
    February 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    This is the right time to put this post into use. Lets TRACK that person online :)

  18. Pete Cashmore
    February 4, 2009 at 11:26 am


    I categorically DID NOT leave the comment above, and I'm deeply offended by whoever did. I'd like to know immediately who left this comment as I find it unacceptable for someone to pose as me, particularly in order to criticize a high quality blog like MakeUseOf.

    I have no idea who "Dave Carpe" is, nor do I read "".

    I can't express how frustrated I am by the above commenter. I sincerely hope we can track down who left the comment, because they're slandering me, Mashable AND MakeUseOf. I'm following up on your email now.

    • Mark O'Neill
      February 4, 2009 at 1:15 pm


      It seems I owe you a huge apology as it now appears that you have indeed been impersonated by someone leaving nasty comments in your name and website URL.

      On behalf of MakeUseOf, I sincerely apologise. We are now taking steps to find the person who is impersonating you and we will get back to you.

  19. Ryan Dube
    February 4, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Hi Pete. I'm sure you know that accusing a writer of plagiarism is a very serious charge. I'd like to see a link to whatever article you feel this one comes from. I can assure you, however, that I wrote this article completely from scratch, and from the luxury (and mild confusion) of my very own mind.

    Thanks for your comment.

  20. Pete
    February 3, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Did you completely steal this content from Dave Carpe's articles at

    • Mark O'Neill
      February 4, 2009 at 7:22 am

      What the hell do you think you are playing at accusing one of my writers of plagarism?

      This is extremely unprofessional of you accusing one of my writers of something like this on a public comments board - without providing evidence to back your claim up. This humiliates Ryan and damages his reputation online.

      If you ever want to accuse one of my writers of anything, you email me in private with the evidence and I will deal with it immediately.

      Either provide the evidence that Ryan plagarised this article or retract your accusation and apologise to Ryan.

      And if you think I am overreacting, think of it this way - would you like me (or one of the MakeUseOf staff) to come onto Mashable's comments and accuse one of the Mashable writers of plagarism? I don't think so. It isn't so nice when the boot's on the other foot.

      • ferf
        August 3, 2009 at 2:06 pm

        LOL. Why are y'all so bothered by "Pete's" comment? I'm sure he just had nothing better to do and just wanted to create some controversy. And you're lucky that there's only one of him. If our site gets more traffic, comments like these would definitely increase. So, my best advice is just to ignore him. Anyways, people dont care about comments like these with no evidence.

      • ferf
        August 3, 2009 at 2:07 pm

        LOL. Why are y'all so bothered by "Pete's" comment? I'm sure he just had nothing better to do and just wanted to create some controversy. And you're lucky that there's only one of him. If our site gets more traffic, comments like this would definitely increase. So, my best advice is just to ignore him. Anyways, people dont care about comments like these with no evidence.

  21. Danny
    February 2, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    If you're in the job market and looking to yourself to see what's out there about your or for then I'd recommend It helps dealing with some of the FCRA issues involved in the hiring and background checking process. Cheers...

  22. Brandon Blattner
    February 1, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Just read about this one yesterday and it is scarily good:


    You'll see.

  23. cheque
    February 1, 2009 at 2:11 am

    Usernamecheck and Identight may be useful even though there are better alternatives. Most of the lookup search engines do not work outside the US. I once had bookmarked a huge folder of these sites. Sadly, my computer is down and I have no way of retrieving it.

    Anyway, most of the sites have been covered by your article. These search engines can prove to be both useful and deadly tools depending on the user. Using Google with operators such as " " and - can also do much harm/good. I once found out where an online friend lived, what car he drove, his full name, his Identification Card number and the other usual details, all through Google. Amazing, huh?

    Thanks for the websites that you keep bringing to us viewers each day. Keep up the good work.

  24. Raju
    February 1, 2009 at 3:34 am

    I had written a post related to this way back in October 2008 - Looking for yourself on the net. I guess its worth sharing it here.

  25. Marcel
    February 1, 2009 at 3:28 am

    There are also paid searches like

    Government Records

    Phone Search