Net surfers are finding a whole lot more than movie listings, racy pictures and news feeds these days. They're finding each other, or at least trying to.
In fact, AT&T; Corp.'s WorldNet Service, the long-distance carrier's Internet access division, has discerned an overwhelming trend among its customers to use the Internet to look up old friends or family.
According to a survey of some 9,600 WorldNet subscribers, 92 percent of those responding said they would like to locate someone from their past, while nearly 40 percent said they have tried to locate someone via the Internet. However, 33 percent of the respondents said they didn't know how to use the Internet to find people.
As a result, AT&T; plans to make available information next Monday on how to conduct online searches for people, and on how surfers can preserve their own privacy in case they don't want to be found, according to company officials.
"People have discovered that the same technology that enables them to search for and access information, exchange ideas and make purchases also can help them reconnect with someone important from their past," said Dan Odette, director of content services at AT&T; WorldNet, in Bridgewater, N.J. "Wishing you could re-establish contact with a relative, a friend, a teacher or coach who helped shape your life need not be just a daydream any longer."
The information, which will be accessible to all Internet users, will be included in the directories area of the WorldNet Web site at www.att.net, company officials said.