Apr 28, 2014 4:20 PM by Maddie Garrett
Do you know how much information about you is really out there on the internet? News 5 is digging deeper to uncover just that, and what you can do about, in a special series about online security.
We asked two strangers for just their full names and set to work researching them online, only using free services and a few hours of browsing the web.
At a Colorado Springs coffee shop, Mendy Putman and John Morris agreed to be a part of our story. They said they weren't sure of what all we would find.
"I'm curious to see what you're going to do with it and your angle on the story," said Putman.
Morris added, "I'd be interested to see what the results are."
After that it was onto the internet. It wasn't hard to find Mendy Putman on Facebook. There were photos of her, her family and friends. It also listed her maiden name. From there it was easy to find her husband and where they got married, Lubbock, Texas. Using public records, we found their marriage license information online.
The information started flowing. We found where she went to college, Texas Tech, the years she and her husband graduated, even their involvement in the alumni association. Her job was also easy to find, she's the director of the Colorado Springs Senior Services Center. We found out her husband's career, his state licenses as a landscape architect, and several news articles about both of them and their work with the City of Colorado Springs and projects they were part of.
Other pertinent information that was available online was her age, her full address and phone number, the sale information of her house and her two children's names and Facebook pages, along with where they lived, relative ages and personal information.
Next it was John Morris' turn. He was harder to find on social media, but because of his involvement in politics, there was a vast amount of information publicly available online.
Morris ran for El Paso County Commissioner in 2012 and was the El Paso County Democratic Party Chair from 2005 to 2009. Several archived news articles showed that he was a history teacher for 27 years in Colorado Springs School District 11, graduated from Colorado College and attended the University of Missouri.
All of his campaign finances are online, not only including who donated to his campaign and how much, but also all of the candidates and groups he donated to since 2009, totaling more than $16,000. He was a little surprised by that number, "Have I really? Gosh," said Morris.
Also online, his age, his home and address, information on his two rental properties and several news articles where he was quoted. We even found his 1966 yearbook picture from Colorado College.
"That's cool, I actually would like to go find that," said Morris.
Morris said he knew his campaign finances and property information would be easy to find.
"It's part of the game, you know it's there," he said.
Still, he said that there's a sense of "big brother" in it all, especially when it comes to information about his age and personal life.
"As I got older I've really noticed how things are showing up in the mail related to age," he said.
Putman agreed, saying the experiment also reminds her of "big brother."
"You know they talk about have you Googled yourself and actually I have just to see, and it can be a little unnerving," said Putman.
The most unnerving thing for her was the abundance of information we found about her family.
"The fact that Terry's (her husband) got so much out there and he doesn't even have a Facebook," said Putman.
She wonders what it will all mean, not for her generation or the older ones, but for her childrens' generation.
"And it's going to be interesting as this population gets older, how far back you'll be able to trace them," she said.
Now News 5 is asking, can you make all of that information go away, can you actually disappear from the internet? We'll have that story Monday night on News 5 at 10:00pm.