I just logged in after being off for a week and I found out I was in the profile of another user. I understood what happened because some notifications pointed me to this and this question.

I understand that my profile was merged with a profile of another user. I can see all the activity of this user and I assume that also the other user can see my activity. What are the privacy implications?


  1. I am from the EU.
  2. I did not put in this profile sensitive data. But questions and answers tell something about the user's opinions, including the political opinion. The email address is also anonymous, but it was used for other activities, with some cross correlations my identity could be traced back via the email address.
  • Same happened to me in this year, somewhere around March. SE got it fixed after a month after contacting them via /contact. Commented Jun 2 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


The result of a bad merge is that two people have access to the same account and all data in it.

The pieces of personal information revealed here are at least:

  • the email address associated with the account

  • the full name you can set in the private section of your user profile

  • all your login methods (which can be email addresses or other accounts)

It also allows another user to impersonate you on the network, which is maybe more relevant if you have an account where you use your real name.

I think this very clearly can be a privacy violation, the impact depends on the specific information you put in there.

Merging is dangerous, and a long time ago SE removed the ability for moderators to merge users because of that. They also mostly stopped merging suspected socks, it was just not worth the risks. And all that was before GDPR. I don't understand why SE is doing this again, the benefits just don't seem to be worth the risk here.

  • 7
    @testing-ma-lady socks can also be deleted, and that is the most common way to handle them. Commented May 31 at 17:15
  • 7
    You also get access to deleted posts, moderator messages, private chat rooms, and drafts, if they exist.
    – Laurel
    Commented May 31 at 17:31
  • 1
    "I don't understand why SE is doing this again" I can think of one or two reasons
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 31 at 17:55
  • @VLAZ well this explains slower response and less ability to handle, but not original cause. Commented May 31 at 17:56
  • 13
    @ShadowWizard lost expertise and collected knowledge. Recently staff mismanaged locks from not knowing how they worked. There is the sense of lost experience in SE. I suspect the merges are another symptom of that.
    – VLAZ
    Commented May 31 at 17:59
  • 5
    @testing-ma-lady there are advantages to merging, I won't go into them as it's related to sock detection by mods and not all parts of that are public. But in my opinion even with those advantages I don't think we should merge socks, there is always a change to get it wrong and that is too dangerous. We need better mod tools to handle socks without merging. Commented May 31 at 19:06
  • @VLAZ to be fair, because we mods sometimes still request accounts merging for extraordinary circumstances. Commented Jun 2 at 5:14
  • Not sure about the rest of the network, but mergers have been fairly common on SO the entire time I've been a mod - occasionally to my annoyance when dealing with Q-ban evasion socks, as enough mergers can allow Q-ban clearing. Losing experience is definitely a contributor to the increased incorrect merges, but that's likely a symptom of CMs without experience misinterpreting whatever signals it is they use to justify a merge, and not a consequence of an increased number of merges Commented Jun 4 at 17:36
  • Also, to be clear, while mishandling merger identification and merging unrelated accounts does lead to more mergers, the increase in mergers itself isn't the root cause, but a symptom of SE's management running the CM team and the network into the ground Commented Jun 4 at 17:37
  • @Zoe Yeah, that was much earlier, maybe around 2012 or a bit later. I think around that time SE removed the ability to merge users for diamond moderators. And I don't think it was ever a hard rule to not merge anymore, but more of a trend towards considering it to be more trouble than it is worth. And CM merges are really not that visible on smaller sites, so I would not have noticed these changes unless they are actively discussed. Commented Jun 4 at 18:31

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