May 042010
 

I was shocked today to read a post from my friend about a site called Spokeo.com that collects all available public information on you in one place, offering some for free, and some for a fee.

This site is a stalkers best friend and a marketer’s dream. It offers age, location, photos, financial information, credit standing, personal interests, family dynamics, relationships, you name it. From their site:

Spokeo is a search engine specialized in organizing people-related information from phone books, social networks, marketing lists, business sites, and other public sources. Most of this data is publicly available on the Web. […] only Spokeo’s algorithm can piece together the scattered data into coherent people profiles, giving you the most comprehensive intelligence about anyone you want to find.

I didn’t believe my friend and went to check for myself, and sure enough there I was, as you will likely find you are too.

What can I do about this?

Well, you can start by realizing that for those who want it, the internet has made it all too easy to gather a pretty comprehensive profile on you, and make it available to anyone willing to pay, say, $2.95 a month.

Scary? Yes indeed. Will this make you suicide yourself off of all your social media lists? I’ll bet not. Because  even then, good data digging will likely get into records that exist off the social media radar, and you’ll still be exposed, but with no input at all.

As for Spokeo, Here’s how to remove your name from their search database.

  • Go to their page, Search for yourself,
  • Copy your location URL,
  • Click the PRIVACY button on the lower right,
  • Past your URL in the URL box (skip the advertised “Reputation Defender”)
  • Enter your email (they already have it, but need to send your confirmation somewhere)
  • Enter the Captcha
  • Go to your email, click the confirm link
  • Reload your previous url and search for yourself to make sure you’re not unavailable.

I fully expect this to be just the newest level of privacy warfare.  For anyone unversed in Huxley or Orwell, this is just another step as Science Fiction is rapidly becoming Science Fact.  The bleak endings to their Utopia may be instructional as well.