Hold on to Your Hats – The Internet Just Got Scarier with Spokeo

by Keri Honea on May 25, 2010

Spokeo - Scariest Place on the InternetI was introduced to a new website today called Spokeo.com, and it is quite possibly the scariest thing I have ever found on the Internet, and this includes some of the gawdawful sites I’ve stumbled onto with an unfortunate typo.

Just go visit it, type in your name and come back.

Scary, right? It lists EVERYTHING the Internet knows about you, which includes your address, your education level, your zodiac sign, your phone numbers, how many people live in your house, your home value, your neighborhood value, and of all things, your credit estimate. If you join and pay a monthly fee, you find out what social networks a person is linked to and everything those say as well.

This is incredibly invasive, and it makes me want to abandon social media networking altogether. At least with individual social media sites, I can set my privacy settings so people can’t search for me on Google and find me there. Unless you’re my friend, colleague, family member, or client, I don’t want you finding me in cyberspace, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I do not want one search engine pointing out where I am, and I doubt I’m alone in this feeling. If you’re going to stalk me, I’d rather you work at it instead of going to a one-stop-shop.

It’s already scary enough that social media networks like Facebook work with third-parties like Digg and YouTube to announce what you’re doing on the web, but apparently the founders of Spokeo had to show just how creepy the Internet can be. At least I can take some solace in knowing that 80% of the information about me on the site is incorrect (although the “some college” remark greatly offends me), and I’m sure it’s just as inaccurate for others. However, when I type in my maiden name, all of my parents’ information and their old addresses pops up. So this not only invades just me, but it also potentially invades others by association.

In case you haven’t been watching what you say and do in the social media realm, this new “phonebook” shows exactly why you should care about what you post to the web. It no longer takes much work to find where you are and what you have said.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Whitney August 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

It *only* makes you “want to abandon social media networking altogether”? It makes me want to abandon the Internet altogether. I have nothing to hide, no skeletons in my closet — but that doesn’t mean I want any Tom, Dick, or Harry knowing whatever there is to know about me. Like you, I just don’t want to be an open book to folks outside of my inner circle.

I’ve avoided FaceBook altogether, even for the non-profits I work with. I’ve never felt that FaceBook could be trusted to abide by whatever privacy rules I set. Further, there are so many people on FaceBook that I have yet to figure out what advantages it offers over the World Wild Web. At one point, it may have offered some advantages, but now it’s almost as big and noisy and crowded as the Web itself.

I’m understanding, now, what celebrities and public figures must feel like — and it’s unpleasant..and really really really creepy.

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