Five Ways to Find Someone Using Only a Username

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Usernames: How to Use Them To Find Someone on the Web

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 A username - online handles on various sites that designate your profile information - can yield a surprising amount of information when used creatively. If you're trying to get more information about someone, and you know what their username is on any site, you can use that tiny bit of information to potentially unearth much more data.

Why? Because even though it's a definite privacy risk, most people use the same or similar usernames across all of the sites that they might sign up for online. It's too much of a pain to keep track of a different username for every website, even though current online privacy guidelines strongly suggest that you do so (read Ten Ways to Protect Yourself Online for more information). It's simply easier to have one basic username across all the different sites and services we might utilize on the Web, which makes it much easier for others to track activity once they have that username. 

What kind of information can be uncovered? For starters: comments, watched videos, wish lists, purchases, friends, family, images, and much, much more. In this article, we're going to take a look at five different ways you can use a username to track someone down online.

Note: the information contained in this article is meant for entertainment and educational purposes only, and should not be used inappropriately. 

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Start with a search engine

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The first thing you should do when starting a people search by username is simply to plug it into your favorite search engine, whichever search engine that might be. Google is the world's most popular search engine for a reason: it can turn up amazing amounts of information, and can send you on some pretty interesting rabbit trails. 

However, Google is not the absolute authority when it comes to finding something online. Savvy web searchers know that different search engines yield different results - sometimes with quite drastic differences. Pick a few different search engines to plug your username into and see what comes up; a few good places to start would be Google (of course), Bing, DuckDuckGo, and USA.gov

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Search social networks

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While many people these days are more conscious of privacy, especially since the revelations revealed by Edward Snowden, the vast majority of people who use services online use the same usernames from site to site. This applies especially to social networks, where it can take a lot of time and effort to create and maintain a profile.  

If you know someone's username, plug it into a few social networks - this would include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can potentially find lists of friends, images, interests, even personal information. 

What can you do with this information? Just like any other people search, it's very rare to get all you're looking for in just one search. You can use bits of information to find more information. For example, if you find a profile image on a social network, you can use a reverse image search service, such as Tineye, to track down other instances of that same image. Many times people use the same profile image across all the different social network services and other online sites that they sign up for, and you can unearth quite a bit of data this way. 

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Blogs and usernames

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Blogging is one of the most popular activities online and there are literally millions of people who spend time every day adding to their very own online journals. While many people have gone the extra mile to secure a domain name and hosting for their blogs, there are still a vast number of bloggers who use free online services to share their thoughts; among these, Blogger, Tumblr, and LiveJournal. If you have someone's username, go to these sites' search functions, enter it in, and see what you come up with. Conversely, if you find that the search function is not easy to find (ironically) or isn't yielding any good information, you can use Google to search within the site as a whole using this command: site:blogger.com "username".  

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Search for usernames on specific sites

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Most websites require a username to participate in site activities; this could mean discussions, comments on posted articles, or live streaming chat. If you know someone's username, you can plug it into the search function on these sites and look at their entire user history. 

For example, on Spotify, you can type the following code into the Spotify search bar - spotify:user:[username] (replacing [username] with their Spotify username), and you should be able to locate their account and what they're currently listening to. 

On Reddit, you are given a multitude of different ways to track someone down on the advanced search page. Want to look at someone's comments? Try Reddit Comment Search

How about eBay or Amazon? You can find someone on eBay using their username or email address, which uncovers their bid history, ratings, and anything they might have left for another seller. On Amazon, you can use someone's username to find their wish list and jump off that to find what they've purchased recently (note:you'll only be able to see what items they've left reviews for). 

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Usernames: An Untapped Goldmine of Information

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From search engines to blogs to social networks, if you've got a username, then you're holding the key to a lot of potential data. 

All of the information contained in this article is absolutely 100% free and publicly available. If someone's username is on the Web, then it can be used to potentially find all sorts of interesting information. However, this knowledge should be used appropriately and never in any way that could harm someone else - read What is Doxing and How Can I Prevent It? for much more information on this sensitive subject. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility - especially online. 

If you're concerned about how much information other people can uncover about you online, please read the following resources:

Is Google Stalking Me?  If you're concerned about how much information Google has about you, you'll want to read this article on how to guard your data more effectively. 

Eight Ways to Hide Your Online Identity: More people than ever before in history are going online, and with that, there are increasingly more security concerns. It's smart and makes sense to take time to learn more cautious Web browsing habits. 

How Confident Are You That You Are Safe Online? Find out what you can do personally to make sure that your online privacy is never compromised. 

Ten Ways to Protect Your Web Privacy: Here are a few common sense tips that can help you guard your Web privacy and stay safe online.