Do you need to find someone with no social media? And you have no idea about how to do that search using the Internet or through other ways? So, this is your best guide for how you can search, then find people with no social media footprint.
In the current digital age, locating a person has become much simpler. SpaceX with its Starlink satellite project, Amazon with its global reach, and worldwide accessibility to the internet and the connected social media platforms means that finding someone is a relatively simple task. It is becoming less common to remain anonymous…but not always.
A globally connected planet means that finding a person with a simple Google/Facebook/Twitter search is a relatively easy task. The problems associated with locating someone in this day and age are now as simple as typing and clicking. Or is it?
Challenges involved in finding a person with no social media
Sometimes a person will have what is referred to as a “zero footprint” which is a catch-all for the person having no apparent social accounts. When this happens, all is not lost, for there are many ways of tracking someone down, but it isn’t as simple as a basic search.
Another problem crops up when the person in question is using an alias, false name, or other misleading information. This complicates the search, often requiring yet another approach. This issue also means the solution is more complex to resolve.
Searching for a person requires certain key information. The first and easiest piece of the puzzle is their name. Next, come things such as known information about the subject. This includes phone numbers and general location or physical addresses. Even knowing the person’s sex can narrow the inquiry down.
It all keeps coming back to the name. All of these secondary items won’t be much help without knowing the name. To locate a person based solely on secondary information exacerbates the problem with finding the subject to the point where things like Private detectives can potentially come into play. Sometimes, it could be possible to find the name from the phone number only. An exception to this is if the searcher has a photograph of the subject. (See point #5 for more information.)
So with that in mind, let us look at the various methods available to find someone.
Where to begin?
The very first thing to do is to run a global search. There are many different engines, and not all of them will come up with the same results in the same order. So to be thorough, searching through at least the “Big Three” sites needs to be done.
1. Main search engines
In this section, when referring to the main search sites, we talk about Google, Duckduckgo, Bing, and Yahoo.
There is a good probability that these search engines will have the information needed to find a person. Anytime someone has ever used one of these tools by entering their phone number or name on any website or blog then yes, the chances of a successful outcome are better than average.
If the subject in question has a known address, this can be helpful, but again, without a name, most results will lead to scam sites or paid solutions (which can also be scams. It takes a bit of research to weed out the undesirables here).
Phone numbers are far less optimal in a general search engine due to the proliferation of the aforementioned scams and ‘paywall’ sites that require money before access is granted. Even paid access is no guarantee of a successful phone search. Many times even the legitimate sites will come up blank if the phone number is blocked or unlisted.
Of all of these engines, Google is the biggest and most comprehensive. The benefits AND drawbacks of using Google are the company’s well-known intrusive tracking of users. This applies to the searcher as well as the search-ee. The benefit is that anyone that interacts with Google is much easier to find. The drawback is that the engine collects information on the searcher as well.
If the search isn’t ‘sensitive’ in nature, this isn’t a problem. If confidentiality is required, Google isn’t as useful unless the person doing the searching is using an encrypted VPN coupled with an anonymous browser.
Bing/Yahoo are good choices, but also track the user. They have less relevant results but can be a decent resource in a pinch.
To avoid third-party intrusion, the next best engine overall right now is DuckduckGo. It does not track its users and the results are very similar to Google’s. For those who seek privacy, this is the best solution for the general search.
2. Dedicated business search engines
These are more focused on things such as business recruiting and networking. The 800-pound gorilla in the room is Linkedin. It is considered the ‘google’ of business recruiting and networking.
Other sites that can be searched include Xing, Meetup, Gust.com, Xing, Bark, Indeed, ZipRecruiter and the list goes on. This isn’t by any means comprehensive, but these are the biggest players in this field.
These sites work well if the subject of the search is active in any type of business networking, or working online via various employment sites.
3. Dedicated people search sites
These search engines drill into more specifics. You can search based on all of the usual things that a general search engine will accept, but these will have a higher percentage of success if the main engines fail. The drawback? Nearly all of them require payment to either use or generate reports or both. Most of these are inexpensive, and if the search is important, they can be an excellent resource.
This is where the need for caution comes into play. To find and use this type of search engine requires wading through a large number of scam sites that claim the same results as the legitimate ones. It requires a bit of research to determine a good search vendor that doesn’t require a lot of expenditure to utilize.
4. Public phone number directories: ‘Whitepages’
Online phone number directories are another potential source of information about the person being looked for. If the person’s area code, phone number, and at least partial name are known, these directories can be an excellent solution. Simply enter the information and then click the search button to get the results.
Unfortunately, the internet has proliferated with many white page sites requiring money to use. The same caution used with “People Search” sites is needed here to avoid frustration.
5. Photographic reverse lookup sites
In the last several years a new method to find people is referred to as the Photo Reverse Lookup.
Almost all of the major search engines are now offering this. If a photograph of the subject is available, it can be submitted and the reverse lookup then trawls the internet looking for matches.
If it finds them, it may not yield a good result initially but it works somewhat like the branches of a tree. One branch may give another picture, but then that picture can be looked up. Sometimes this will give a link to a site that may have good information. A workplace, or friends of friends who ARE on social media can simplify the search.
The problem with this type of search is that it is still in its relative infancy, and results can lead down completely wrong paths.
6. The analog method
After all of that is said and done, sometimes a person STILL falls through the cracks. So, there could be fewer chances to find them when they don’t have social media accounts or other types of Internet footprint. Considering how many people go missing every year without a trace, finding someone without an internet footprint can require going ‘old-school’. In 2021 the United States had over 600,000 missing cases reported. Most were resolved, but between 10-15 thousand were not. That statistic has been fairly steady for the last ten years.
When the digital solutions don’t work, searching physically is the next step.
- Personal searches. If the searcher has the wherewithal, canvasing the last known locations and talking to people who might know or be related to that person is an option.
- Private Investigators. This is a pricier solution, but these people are professionals and know how to find things and people.
- Local police/General law enforcement agencies. Reporting someone missing is a very public way to try and get results, but can be problematic from the mess of paperwork required. There is also the legal standpoint. Normally family or close friends can get this rolling. Just saying that someone is missing is only the first step in what can be considered a byzantine mess and fruitless in the results.
These are the general categories for searching for a person when he or she has no social media accounts or no Internet presence completely. There are others, but in the main, they are merely variations on the themes presented here.