How to quickly and for free find the right person on the Internet: tips and services - ForumDaily
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How to quickly and for free find the right person on the Internet: tips and services

We live in the most interconnected time in history. We can collaborate with people who live thousands of miles away, visit places virtually without leaving home, or we can, albeit with different results, express our every thought to the whole world. And yet, in some ways, we are more isolated than ever. It's getting harder to find people simply because of the sheer size of the networks. It's one thing to find someone who still lives in your area, but the task can get quite difficult the wider you have to look. Edition Lifehacker told several ways to search for a person on the Internet, which will facilitate this task.

Photo: Shutterstock

Sometimes we need to find someone, and the good news is that most of us have a digital presence. Whether it's idle curiosity about how an old friend, client, or business partner whose data is lost, we sometimes need to find one of them, and simply entering a name in a search engine does not always help.

There are services for this that will take your money in exchange for finding information about people, but in most cases this is not necessary if you are willing to put in a little effort. The first step is to put together the information you already have. For each solution on this list, the more information you provide, the narrower and more efficient your search results will be. Full name, age, and any information about the place of residence (even just knowing the country, state, or province is useful) will give you much more accurate results. Age is often the most useful, as it can immediately eliminate a lot of false hits.

People search ethics

These free resources should help you connect with someone you think would like to be found. If you've exhausted these tools and still haven't found the object, consider the possibility that they don't want you to find them and leave them alone. And if you don't want to be found yourself, consider using a service like DeleteMe to erase your digital footprint from the internet.

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White Pages

White page websites have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. If you've ever searched for someone online, you've probably tried it once or twice, and they're all basically the same: you enter someone's name and additional information, and the service comes up with a list of possible matches. Then you invariably end up in a sales funnel.

However, these sites can be very helpful. whitepages.com, for example, will show you for free a list of current and past addresses, possible relatives, approximate age, and even a few phone numbers. This is a bit scanty information, but often it is all you need to establish contact or find data that you can use in one of the other services.

TruePeopleSearch a similar site that offers much of the same information for free; comparing the results of each will give you what you need.

Public Records Request

Almost all authorities have online tools for requesting public records. As you might guess from the title, these are records that are legally available to anyone making a formal request. While some municipalities may still require you to go to a physical office to complete the required forms, most have online portals to do this (for example, New York State has online Freedom of Information Act form). The local government may charge a fee, but this often depends on the specific records you request.

What can be learned from such records? It depends on your location, but in general, marriage certificates, birth and death records, court cases and criminal records, and property and tax records should be available. Keep in mind that even with the internet, accessing these records can be challenging as they are often stored in separate databases and each request requires a new form to fill out. But if you're willing to put in the time, you'll get a ton of wanted person information for free.

Track their social media presence

Almost everyone has a social media footprint these days, so looking up someone's social media should be one of the first things you do when trying to follow someone. By looking at Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram profiles, you can find out where the wanted person is and how to contact him. And LinkedIn is the obvious way to connect professionally with other people.

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One way is to Google everything you know about the person (name, age, location, etc.) and add a "site:" tag. For example, you can search "John Smith" "Reno" site: Facebook.com to see all of John Smith's profiles that mention Reno, Nevada. Alternatively, a site like SocialSearchwill search a wide variety of social media platforms at once.

Search by image

If all you want is a photo of someone (say, from a social network account), you can try a reverse search to see where else there is a similar image, which in turn can give you some clues about how to contact the person.

Check out images.google.com and click on the little camera icon ("search by image"). Then paste the URL of the image, load it from your hard drive, or drag and drop it from your desktop or from another browser window. Google will then show you other locations where the image is located.

Alternatively, try a site like TinEyewhich does the same thing but offers a slightly more targeted list of results. The accuracy or usefulness of these searches will largely depend on whether this particular photograph has been used by the person you are trying to find.

Search for prisoners

If you're using the internet to find someone, you obviously don't know much about them - at least you obviously don't know them well enough to easily contact them. So consider the possibility that the reason you can't find him is because he's incarcerated.

The good news is that most prison systems allow you to search for prisoners online for free, and some even allow you to send messages to them. However, in many states, writing to a prisoner costs money and may require a subscription to a service such as JPay.

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