Regular visitors to this website know how important it is to conduct a thorough background check and that “Googling” someone does not qualify as a “thorough background check.”

Although Google is the probably the most powerful tool in a private investigators tool chest, like other “tools” it does have its limitations.

Consider this – the surface web (a typical “Google” search or search engine) accounts for less than 3%[1. Although there is no “official” data as to the amount of information on the web, in 2005, Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, said that they had indexed 170 terabytes of data and based on data from 2000, the deep web contained 7,500 terabytes of data.

Although both of these numbers have increased exponentially, it is widely believed that the Internet is growing at a faster pace that what is being indexed.] of the Internet and by Google’s own admission, it would take more than 300 years to index all of the world’s information and make it searchable.

The “Deep Web”

The “other” 97% of the Internet is typically referred to as the “deep web” or “invisible web.”  Search engines are, after all, computers and can’t make “dynamic” queries and search the contents of databases.  For searchable databases, such as public record databases, computer “robots” cannot enter keywords, passwords or logins to access the databases and therefore information contained in these databases is not indexed or searchable through Google.

Other than public record databases, things such as Facebook posts, message board posts, government databases and books typically don’t show in a Google search either.

Google is no substitute for real fact-checking and while there is a time and a place for do-it-yourself Internet research, when there are real risks involved, financial or otherwise, you are better of consulting a professional.

Think about that the next time if you are serious about conducting a thorough background check; Internet research only scratches the surface of the available data.

If you’ve  given someone a clean bill of health because you didn’t find anything bad Google; you just missed 97% of what’s on the web.  It’s scary, but people do it all the time.

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