[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Net users find themselves online
Close-up of Inverse Reverse Peverse by Cerith Wyn Evans, PA
How well does the net reflect you?
Many net users seem to be much more vain than you might think.

A survey carried out by MSN has revealed that more people have looked themselves up online than have looked up a member of their own family.

It found that 39% of those questioned had searched to see how well-known they were online, but only 29% have looked up fellow family members.

Over a third of those who responded in the survey, 36%, said they had looked up long lost friends online.

Search form

While many people "Google" prospective girlfriends and boyfriends before a date to see if they have any dark secrets, the survey shows that many people are more curious about themselves than they are about anyone else.

The survey of American net users reveals that many people are curious to see how popular they are in comparison to other people with the same name and have spent time finding out net search results for themselves, their website, postings to newsgroups or anything else they have had placed on the web.

Many people are likely to be surprised at how much of what they did and said can be found online and how much of their privacy they have inadvertently lost.

Allied to this searching for oneself online are the small proportion of people, 17%, who have turned to the net to look up old flames on the web.

The research also revealed that Generation Xers, the group that has grown up with the web, are the most likely to look for new flames online.

Harris Interactive, which carried out the research for MSN, broke down some results by age and location.

It found that older people, those aged 59 and over, were more likely to use the web to find out about their family and ancestors.

Justin Osmer, manager of search at Microsoft, said although the results show that search engines are hugely important to many people, a lot of work needs to be done to make results more accurate to what people are looking for.

He said that, on average, people spend 11 minutes combing through the vast number of results returned by most search engines.

The research revealed that many people, 29%, regularly abandon a search without getting any useful information at all.

Far better, he said, would be fewer more relevant results.

Microsoft looks beyond Windows
30 Jul 04  |  Technology
Microsoft revamps its web search
02 Jul 04  |  Technology
Google date test 'nets US fugitive'
30 Jan 04  |  Americas
Searching the search engines
04 May 04  |  Technology
Search business turns serious
27 May 04  |  Technology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific