Where'd THAT come from, person search edition
February 16, 2018 12:09 PM   Subscribe

The other day I looked myself up on one of those personal information search sites on the web. They had a religious affiliation for me that was out of left field, I've never been this religion, none of my family is this religion, I've never even been a guest at a religious service at this religion's place of worship. Where did they ever get information like that?
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Er. Are you sure it was actually you and not someone with the same name as you that got mixed in?
posted by Brockles at 12:13 PM on February 16, 2018 [6 favorites]

Sometimes if the missionaries are cheating, they will look for public records, and add you to their "contacted" list in order to boost their stats. Sometimes it counts as a "contact" if they just drop off literature.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:17 PM on February 16, 2018

Those personal information sites have a really hard time distinguishing between me and a couple of other people who share my first and last name. It's not that I did something to make them think I'm a doctor in Michigan. It's that the doctor in Michigan shares enough characteristics with me that the site can't tell us apart.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:45 PM on February 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

The way these sites work, if it's not you who is of that religion, at the most it just means someone whose name could conceivably be mistaken for (or misspelled as) yours is.
posted by rhizome at 12:51 PM on February 16, 2018

Best answer: It could be totally random. I once looked up my (rather unique) name to find that I was apparently a 31 year old man. It had my parents and sister listed as relations, too, so they definitely meant me. 27 year old female me was not impressed.
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:30 PM on February 16, 2018

What religion is it? I ask because the Mormon church has been stalking my dad for DECADES based on a misspelling of his name— apparently a Mormon person named (fake name example) Jeff Walters left their church in the 1980s, and my dad’s (fake name for the purposes of this example) is Geoff Walters, and EVERY YEAR we had multiple visits from elders trying to talk him into coming back into the fold. He pointed out that the spelling was different, and that he has never been a Mormon, and begged them to take him off their “win back the apostate” rolls, but they never did.

So that's one possibility!
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:03 AM on February 20, 2018

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