Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is Spokeo.com a Site to Opt Out Of?

A recent post by Jared Brickman caught my eye as I’m always looking for new security issues and online privacy dangers and problems. And with sites like FaceBook always challenging our online privacy I was more than interested to hear about Spokeo.com. And while I hadn't heard of Spokeo before Jared’s post it only shows the rapid growth of information brokers’ sites and services that can be found on line.

Now with this information comes the confusing question of what if anything I should do about it?

For this is an example of the confusing nature of privacy on line. Many of us spend our online time blogging, tweeting, commenting, and getting Google and others search engines to index it all so it can be found. Then along comes a site like Spokeo that is set up to compile data from many sites, blogs, indexes, and data bases that provides just such public access. But since it’s a site we know little about and have no control over what they show and can only opt out of being listed or leave any search results available we have to decide; Do we opt out of being listed on Spokeo.com, or leave our listing there and available?

And while Jared elected to opt out, honestly, I personally am still considering what I want to do.

For on the one hand it's a site that is kind of scary as it is a very comprehensive collection of information that I'm not sure I want available all at one site. But on the other hand it's all information that's available anyway and most if not all of it is on Google or other search engines already. And I’m also sure that even if I opt out of Spokeo another site just like it is either out there now or soon will be.

So does opting out of Spokeo really changing anything or do I just have to accept that mega personal search sites are something I have to learn to live with?

Right now I’m just not sure which choice I will end up making.

Anyway you might want to check out Spokeo.com and see what info they’ve collected on you. And if you find that information something you don’t want to share the instructions on how to opt out of Spokeo are included from Jared’s post.

Just let me know did you decide to stay or did you decide to opt out?
And do you think Spokeo.com is a danger to online privacy or just another search engine?

Instructions on opting out of Spokeo.com from Jared’s post.
1) Go here: http://www.spokeo.com/
2) Search your name or user name
3) Click your listing
4) Copy the full URL from the browser address bar
5) Click privacy (in the footer)
6) Fill out the form
7) Click the link in the confirmation email
And feel the relief of being weirdo-directory site free (at least until the next one comes around).


Rishona said...

Well I chose to opt out of Spokeo. Even if all that information is 'out there', I didn't like seeing it all in one place. There are already other sites...like People411.com. So I do think that we are seeing a pretty unfortunate side effect of the open availability of being 'social' online.

Oh and I would not be surprised if the bulk of this information is not collected straight from Facebook.

Frank Woodman Jr said...

Hi Rishona,
Thanks for your thoughts on this issue. And I can sure see why you would feel that opting out of Spokeo is a good idea.

And I hope that this info helped you do so without a lot of trouble. I'm personally still considering the issue but well may do the same thing.

As to where the info came from that's always hard to know but I'm sure, like you, that at least some of it comes from FaceBook.

But from my research much of it is also found in Google and other search engines as well.