AOL customers use Twingine too

AOL has released search usage data for a selection of AOL users in the period between March 1st and May 31st, 2006. There has been some controversy regarding the insufficient anonymization of the search data, and some of the users have been identified from the data.

The web site aolstalker.com gives a per-user view of the search data, in addition to the possibility to see who, if any, searched for a given term.

Searching for "twingine" revealed that two of the AOL customers sampled in the data used Twingine in the time period of the sample.

A note on privacy: Twingine is run by an individual, not a business, on a personal computer in a private residence in a country with strong privacy laws (Norway). As such, the data is much more protected than if a corporation was responsible for the hosting or operation of the service.

Yahoo! and Google have however been subjected to subpoenas in the past for search data. Google refused to comply.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation have more information on the AOL case.


Dread Pirate Robert said...

Hi there,
I like the dual-view of results. If I put the code on my website, is there any way to see a list of terms my visitor plug in to the box?

Asgeir S. Nilsen said...

Not directly. The request gets posted straight to Twingine. However, if you are fluent in PHP or JSP it's quite straightforward to create a small script to receive the query and redirect it to Twingine.

Mohit said...

Hi Asgeir,

This comment is unrelated to this particular blog post. Was just wondering if you have any tracking on the "maximize" button on the top of both panes. Basically, which one do people click on more often?

Can you please publish that on the blog?



Asgeir S. Nilsen said...


That would be an interesting statistic indeed.

However, if you look at the URLs between the two maximize links you see that they point to Yahoo and Google directly. My server does not see this click and no statistics can be collected.