The Indy Star published an article today on how the video of a Greensburg, Indiana child singing an anti-gay song at church before applauding parishioners went viral. While the church is in Indiana, the guy who found the video and tracked down where it came from, lives in Texas and did all of his sleuthing with Google.
How Mike was able to push an obscure video into the public consciousness reveals something about the changing face of citizen sleuthing. While some citizen journalists develop government sources or mine documents buried in databases, others expose another kind of secret: those hidden in plain sight.
He decided to find the video's source, starting with the user who posted it, Funnyman1972. A search of the user's videos revealed he was from Indiana and his children's names.
An extensive online search yielded an AOL email address, which triggered a result on Spokeo.com. The name from Spokeo provided a result on Veromi.com for a 40-year-old man from Greensburg. His birth year, 1972, coincided with the username Funnyman1972.
Mike matched the name to the Facebook profile of a Greensburg man whose friends list included children with the names mentioned in the user's videos.
One of his family members had 'Liked' the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle on Facebook.
Digging into Google, he found interior photos of the church, and they matched the room shown on the video.
I got a quote in the story, but it has to be the most mundane statement I've ever seen come out of an interview. The reporter and I chatted for almost a half hour and here's what she quoted: "That's how one guy found this video on YouTube, and it's become a national story." True enough, I suppose.