Why investigative journalists may need to use a pseudonym on 192.com

Two tips for journalists working online. Those who use 192.com to search for people need to take care if they’re working on an investigative assignment.

The online directory now tips people off if someone is searching for them. Not great for the reporter who’s doing a bit of undercover research.

The service is available to 192.com account holders and is called Who’s Looking For You.

It sends them a report every time their name, and/or address is searched on the site.

The report tells them who you are, even if you don’t have a 192.com account yourself.

So if you want to search for someone secretly, use a pseudonym.

A new Chrome add-on lets you find basic information about people mentioned in online archives. And you don’t have to leave the page you’re on.

www.getsummer.com lets you click on a name on a news website, and then displays the person’s biography, YouTube video and their Twitter account.

Cleland Thom is a trainer and consultant in media law

UPDATE 31/10/2012, 15.50pm:

A spokesman for 192.com said: "192.com has over 30 million residential records for the UK, and 4.5 million business listings, and is an ideal resource for journalists. 

"The names of those searching on the site can be revealed to those using 192.com’s See Who’s Looking  For You service. The purpose of See Who’s Looking For You is to help long-lost friends and family to find each other. 

"Currently there is little chance that someone you’re searching for is also a subscriber to See Who’s Looking For You. In those circumstances, a subscriber will see the name that you have chosen to register with, but will not see your email or your company name. Contrary to the original blog post by Cleland Thom, if you’re not a registered 192.com user, your searches will be anonymous.

"If you need help researching a story or a reunion case study please email press@192.com."

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