Spokeo: Making Social Media Creepy

Someone was bound to create a tool like this and how surprised can we really be? Facebook’s made it clear that forcing people to opt-out of a service works better than asking them to opt-in.

While we all should know by now that very little of our information is private and whatever you post on your social networks is technically public, Spokeo goes too far. My friend @honoraire posted this on Facebook warning all of her friends:

There’s a site called spokeo.com that’s a new online USA phone book w/personal information: everything from pics you’ve posted on FB or web, your approx credit score, pics of where you live, income, age. Remove yourself by searching your name, copy the URL and then go to the bottom of the page and click on the Privacy link to remove yourself.

Spokeo is a people search engine that retrieves social networking data. Spokeo searches over 40 social networks including popular ones like MySpace and Bebo.

Unlike traditional people search websites that search one person at a time, Spokeo can search and retrieve content for hundreds of people at a time using an interface derived from IM chat clients.

Spokeo identifies search targets by scanning users’ email, address, or name. Spokeo has been featured on top magazines like Newsweek, Wall Street Journal and PC World.

Spokeo claims to be different from other search engines in the way it indexes information. The company’s search engine is actually a search aggregator or a meta-search engine.

Among the sites it references are social networks, phone books, census, marketing channels, newsletters, real estate data and corporate websites. Spokeo charges a minimal fee for instant aggregated information that usually take a long time to gather.

More information found at www.mahalo.com/spokeo

This is a news report about Spokeo, which is described as an example of a beneficial computer technology that can invade privacy. How Spokeo does its line of work is explained. A computer professor shares his opinion on Spokeo. The report ends by giving advice about opting out of Spokeo searches.

What I Found

Looks like Spokeo found my most recent info to be from my place of residence at age 6, so I was not terribly annoyed but I still felt violated. While I do not have children, the thought that they would be listed really makes my stomach turn.

From Heather Jeffrey via The DailyReporter.com:

Now, this is what scares me. A pedophile’s dream, all the information you need to track down an unwarned youngster, including a picture of his/her home.

I have ink in my veins, so a part of me thought “Okay, this is a tool for journalists, investigators, etc.” That thought quickly faded, as there are a plethora of other places to get this information.

At this site, one can do a search by name, email address, phone, username and friends. It will provide a person’s name, age, family members, address, a picture of the home (no kidding), home value, income (which was way off for me), social networks, photos and/or videos, IP addresses, occupation, cell and landline phone numbers, ethnicity, cell and home phone carrier, among other information.

Remember, this information about your children can be obtained here, too.

Take an active role, if not for yourself, for your kids and elderly members of your family and remove your information.

So what do you do?

Remove Yourself From Spokeo

  1. Go to Spokeo
  2. Search your First and Last name (especially the name you use on Facebook), your emails, usernames, phone numbers, etc.
  3. Find your profile and click it
  4. Click “See It All” which will bring you to a purchase page (sharks… smh)
  5. Copy the entire URL from your browser
  6. Scroll down and click the Privacy link at the bottom of the page
  7. Enter the URL you copied, your email address, and click “Remove Listing”
  8. Check your email for an email subject reading: Spokeo Directory Removal Confirmation
  9. Click the provided link to confirm your listing removal
  10. You should be redirected to a page that reads: “This directory listing has been removed.”

Similar Websites to Remove Yourself From: