Twitter has a people filter on its search, like Facebook does, as well as an advanced search page. So you can just drop in a name to get to sleuthing.
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You can, for example, search for people who worked at a particular place or attended a particular school, get Facebook accounts linked to a Twitter account, and look up Twitter accounts with multiple friends in common, all through records that are publicly available. The moral of the story is, you can search for much more than a name. As we showed with the head of the FBI , the accounts of relatives and friends can lead you right to the person you want, even if that person is well hidden—the network of tags, likes, and retweets goes pretty deep on Instagram and Twitter, places where most content is public.
These daisy chains of connections can be traced with time, patience and some know-how. If we can find James Comey in the space of four hours, maybe you can find Aunt Myrtle. If the Google trail is dead, try alternatives such as Bing and DuckDuckGo , then try search engines that go deeper— WebCrawler , DogPile , and Monster Crawler are three examples to try, and of course you have the WayBack Machine that can turn up pages that have since been removed from the internet.
All those browser extensions designed to make it easier to do some professional networking, by showing you contact info that is often hidden, can also be mined for information as well. The likes of Prophet , ContactOut and Discoverly can help you turn a little bit of information into a lot more—try installing any of these browser add-ons and see the difference it makes as you look up people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and elsewhere.
Learn why people trust wikiHow. Author Info Updated: September 12, Learn more Method 1. Write down as many details as you can remember. If your search ends up dragging on or producing unclear results, you'll be thankful for as much detail as possible. Try to remember your friend's hair color, height, maiden name, family members' names, and the names of all towns he lived in and places he worked for.
Get in contact with other people that knew the specific person you're searching for.
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Ask them questions about when they've last seen them, talked to them, or any personal information like last known email addresses or phone numbers. If you and your friend had a major falling-out, some of your contacts may not cooperate. It's worth combing your address book to see if you have written down any connections to them that you have forgotten about.
Know how to search online. A simple search engine attempt often doesn't lead anywhere, but it's worth a try.
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Whether you're using Google or one of the more specialized services described later, it pays to know how to make your search more effective:  Search for nicknames as well, even if your friend didn't have one when you knew her. For instance, an "Elizabeth" might now go by "Beth," "Betty," or "Liza. On search engines, enclose your friend's name in quotation marks, then add more information such as the school she went to, the city she lived in, or the business she worked for. Search for your friend's name on Google Image search.
If you see a face that may be your friend, follow the link to the website the image showed up on. Even if this doesn't lead to contact, you might find a more up-to-date photograph of your friend, which can help you identify him in later search results. Method 2. Use social media sites. Search for your friend's full name on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social websites, as well as Google or other search engines. On the left-hand pane, select People. A list of filters should appear at the top of your search, where you can enter possible locations, workplaces, or schools.
Use dedicated people-search websites. Pipl is one of the more impressive free search services out there. You can also try ZabaSearch , or purchase a search for a few dollars on Intelius , radaris , peekyou , Veromi. You can often take the free partial results from several commercial search sites and patch together phone numbers and addresses, without actually paying for the data.
Every site has different information, though most of it tends to be pretty stale. Spokeo tends to have the freshest data. An email address may be buried in an old blog post, online survey, or forum comment. Sign up for friend-finding websites. This works best if you suspect your friend may be looking for you as well, since these websites leave public messages for people to find.
Try Lost Friends Be very cautious with sites that require a credit-card sign up, as they may be scams, or end up being more expensive than you anticipated. All the options above are free. Check your Spam or Junk Mail folder for the confirmation email while signing up. Search by alma mater, military service, or business. Many alumni sites require paid memberships to use, or will ask your friend to pay in order to view your message.
Still, some of these sites can be useful resources, if you know where your friend went to school. ZoomInfo's search is a great resource for people in the corporate world. BatchMates is a free alumni reunion site. It is focused on India but includes members worldwide. That means you can perform Facebook searches on each of those people. And if you're lucky, some of them will have public friend lists that you can browse.
How to Find a Person’s Phone Number
You may discover that at least one of them is friends on Facebook with someone who has your old friend's name. If so, you've probably found the person you've been hoping to get in touch with. Thanks to the platform's widespread popularity, finding old friends on Facebook is becoming more and more common for those who know how to use it. But a lot of people still aren't on Facebook. Some people simply prefer to keep a low profile online or enjoy using other social media platforms instead.
So it may be worth joining a few additional social networking sites. Although they are much less popular—especially among older adults—it's a good idea to check out LinkedIn , Instagram , and Twitter. Each of those sites offers its own search tool that can enable you to find users with your old friend's name.
These types of websites collect public information from all around the Web, and you'll start running across them as soon as you use a search engine to find your friend. In fact, incredibly useful information from them is often included directly in Google's search results. But if you click through to one of these websites, be aware of their selling tactics. Many of them will encourage you to take some kind of action that you probably don't need to do at this stage, such as sign up, become a member, pay for a subscription, or order a comprehensive report.
Some of them even make non-member searches on their sites painfully slow so that you'll give in and make a purchase. At some point, it may be worth paying one of these sites for extra information. However, you can often use them to find people online by name for free. Regardless of whether you search for someone directly on one of these websites or click through to them from Google results, you'll generally be presented with a long list of people who have the same name or a very similar name as the person you're looking for.
The lists also usually include the approximate ages of each person, past and potentially current locations, possible relatives, and aliases. That's a wealth of information—all usually available for free. So if you know how old your friend would be, you can greatly narrow down these lists, especially since you will also know at least one place that he or she has lived before. And if you know the names of any of his or her relatives, it's even easier to pinpoint the person you're seeking. Just keep in mind that, with this type of online people search, the information may not always be accurate or up to date.
So it's a good idea to do a lot of cross-referencing on different websites to see what information consistently shows up.
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Plus, different sites often provide different bits of information that you can piece together into a more complete profile without having to pay for anything. Of course, paying for a detailed report on someone may provide you with information that would be difficult to get through other methods, such as current contact info. And since these types of websites aggregate personal information from a wide variety of public sources, they offer a fast and convenient way to get that info. Many sites even make it possible to find profiles by email address or phone number, which can be useful if you can't remember a person's full name and only have an old piece of contact information to go on.
Again, not all online information aggregators offer exactly the same information, but many of them can provide you with personal details like:. If you don't have much success using one website, you can always try another…and another.
After all, there are many online directories and information aggregators to choose from. Just be mindful of the fact that some of these websites may not follow customer-friendly billing practices. If you sign up for a trial subscription, be sure to cancel your account before the trial period expires.
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Here are some examples of websites in this category:. A lot of people are able to find former classmates by becoming members of alumni websites and associations. This method is particularly useful if you want to reconnect with old school friends but can't quite remember their names. That's because you may be able to browse old class photos and match names to faces. It's usually best to start by finding your former school's alumni website. For example, with this method, you find a high school friend by first searching on Google with the name of your high school in quotes followed by the word "alumni" and the school's location e.
If your alma mater has its own official alumni association, it should appear within the first page or two of search results. Many schools also maintain Facebook pages for alumni groups. Once you find the alumni association for your former high school, college, or university, you simply need to register for free as a new member in order to gain access to class directories, photos, reunion announcements, and information about other members.
If you're lucky, the former classmates you want to find will also be members, enabling you to get in touch with them through email or the alumni association's messaging system. So your school's alumni association may offer a free website to find someone you used to go to class with.
But you may also run into commercial websites that say they help connect former classmates with each other. Some websites even help former military members reconnect. However, on most commercial websites, you'll need to pay for a membership in order to see photos, look at profiles, or message people.