Spokeo – The Interesting, Exciting, and Scary

December 31, 2007

by — Posted in Security

Spokeo is one of the latest Web 2.0 services I have tried here is how it works:

First you sign up and it asks if you want to look for friends from your address book (Gmail, yahoo, AOL, etc,) it then spends time going through all the addresses and see which services they belong (Amazon, MySpace, Last.fm, Digg, Twitter, Etc.) – at this point it shows you all of their public activity on these services.

You also have the option of linking your MySpace, LinkedIn, or other accounts where it doe the same searching as before. This is interesting since it allows you to track your friends without hunting them all down and searching them out. You know what they are up to without actively going to all these different sites online for hours at a time. You may never log into your normal sites to keep up with your friends, it all coming to you.

Now the scary – you can put in any e-mail address and look up someone the same way. You also receive hits from your address book of someone you may have had one quick e-mail exchange with but no relationship. Because of this you are infringing on their privacy.

More people need to be aware of Spokeo so they understand the implications of their online activities and how easy they are to track and monitor. I’m well aware and have been for awhile, I use the internet and post information knowing this and expecting it. Other people I know are not nearly as aware.

I would recommend trying it out just to see what you can find. If your worried about your e-mail address becoming part of the beast I would recommend to sign up with a throw away e-mail address.

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