I’m a Dead Celebrity!

Hilary Mason, Bing Celebrity

Hilary Mason, Bing Celebrity

I have a Google alert set up for my name, and over the weekend it sent me here.

Update: Bing has removed the page and now redirects to a regular search.

It’s a page on Bing Celebrities, merging my information with information about Hilary Mason, the (now deceased) British actress. According to this page, I have starred in movies before I was born and made videos after I died. It’s my photo and her filmography.

It’s creepy, but it’s also intriguing. How does this happen?

The data is credited to AMG and inbaseline, whose domain, though linked directly from Bing, does not resolve. Entity disambiguation is certainly a challenge, but I expect more from Microsoft, with so much data and so many brains.

This kind of error makes it extremely clear that identity is not a solved problem. I’ve written a bit about identity slippage before. And that people are especially sensitive to errors about themselves. :)

This isn’t the first time a search engine has confused me with the other Hilary Mason, except the first time was cuil (remember that?) and it was her photo as Ugly Hag and my bio. I’ll take it Bing’s way, thank you!


  • http://www.ouvre-boite.com Julien

    HA! Well, I’m glad you’re alive :)
    I would love for you to share more about your Google Alert usage! What’s the biggest benefit for this? Would you use a tool like it which would provide you with more data? What kind of data would you be looking for?

  • http://www.valueofsimple.com/ Joel Zaslofsky

    Not all of us get the benefit of being the only one named Joel Zaslofsky. Which would be more beneficial at this point? Changing your name to something unique or changing the system(s) to mitigate identity slippage? :)

  • David A. Black

    I sometimes wonder how — literally, how, as a matter of programming and database management practices — Amazon managed to make as much of a hash of my author page as they did at one point. Actually two points. Long story, and only some of it based on the commonness of my name (some of it was mixing me up with the editor of a book I had contributed one chapter to). They gave me the bio of some mountain climber. That’ll be the day….

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