There are too many sources to even count to find someone on the Internet, so by no means is this a comprehensive list, but here are some sources that we have found to be the most helpful and they can get you started.
First Things First
Before you start “googling” away, the first thing you need to do is write down everything you know about the person you want to find, no matter how minute the detail may be.
Where the person’s family is from, middle name, sibling’s name, friend’s name, neighborhood he or she grew up in, month/day of birth, school name, college name, former employer, or address from 40 years ago may each be a valuable piece of information when you’re trying to find someone.
The fact of the matter is, you never know what that one critical piece of information could be.
How to Find Someone on the Internet
- Search Engines – In addition to Google, there are a number of search engines, including Duckduckgo and Bing. This may surprise you, but each search engine could provide different results. In addition to conducting some basic searches by typing the person’s name into the search engines, you can use a number of advanced search features to search Google like an expert – features that most people never use (or even know exist). Get creative with your searches; look for friends, family members or anything else you know about the person to find someone who may know the person.
- News Articles – News articles are a fantastic source of information and there is no better free and easy-to-use option than Google News Archive. Although Google stopped its historic newspaper archive project, the Google News Archive has publications going back 200 years and more than 2,000 historic newspapers from around the world. For a more comprehensive search, visit your local library and search LexisNexis, Factiva or Proquest, each of which has a vast array of news publications not widely available on the Internet or through Google.
- People Search Engines – While search engines such as Google and Bing are great for finding out information about topics, a number of search engines have cropped up that that are specific to finding information about people. One of the best is Pipl, which will not only identify some specific information about people, but will search the deep Web, which contains information you can’t readily find through a Google search.
- Social Networks – Social networks are all the rage; there are more than 800 million active users on Facebook and more than 100 million active users on Twitter. In addition to the most popular social networks, there are hundreds of other niche social networks, such as LinkedIn for professional business people; Athlinks.com, a social network for endurance athletes; and Ravelry, for knitters (who knew?). If you know the person’s interests, why not try to find a niche social network that he or she may be actively involved in?
- Meta Social Network Engines – With the huge growth of social networks and the number of niche social networks that have appeared on the scene, it is hard to keep track of them all. The solution: Utilize a meta social network engine that will search a vast array of social networks. The most useful that we have found is Spokeo, especially if you have an email address. While it may cost you a few bucks to join, it may be just what the doctor ordered.
- Image Search Engines – Have you found an online picture that the person you are looking for likes to use as a social profile pic? There are a few image search engines that will scour the Web for a duplicate picture. Tineye and Google Image search are among the most user friendly and comprehensive image search engines.
- Ancestral Sites – If you are trying to find some familial history, one of the several ancestral sites may be your answer. Ancestry.com offers a vast array of ancestral research including old census records, historical phone books and archival documents that are not available anywhere else.
- Public Records – There are so many free public records available that we could not even to begin to go through all of them. Records are typically broken down by state or county, so if you know where the person lived, you may find a property record, lawsuit or criminal record that can lead you to him or her. BRB Publications has a great portal for free public records.
- Alerts – If you’ve completed all the steps above and still have been unable to come across what you are looking for, why not set up an alert to scour the Web and have Google do the work for you? Google Alerts can be set up on just about anything and can alert you when anything gets published on the Web concerning the person you are looking for.
There are many resources that you can utilize to find someone on the Internet. Of course, if all of your efforts have hit a dead end, your last resort may be to hire a private investigator to find a person or a witness.