Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spokeo your E-mail, Forget Google

When you were applying for a job, you knew that the employer most likely Googled your name to do some background checking. What if they used Spokeo?

Spokeo is a social network aggregator, it searches and collects public records of fifty social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Amazon Gifts, and the blogosphere just by using an e-mail address. Meaning you enter in the e-mail address of a person and then POOF, you have information of what social networks their on and what they are posting online.

Kawaski gives a great example using his e-mail address to show us his results. It shows his social networks, blogging, employment, and pictures including Flickr (170 photos), MySpace, LinkedIn, his blog, and a total of nine social networks. Click on "View More" to find out which social networks and your taken to the sign up page. You have to pay $2.95/month for one year or $4.95/month for three months to see the details.

When you pay, you see more details like the exact social networks Kawaski belongs to (as seen above). When you click on the matches, it takes you to the person's public page on those sites.

What about privacy? Can they really do that? Spokeo has a page on privacy, where they write that “Spokeo finds only publicly available information by default. In other words, everything on Spokeo could have been seen by you and others all these times.” They compare it to Google-ing someones name but this is a quicker way to find all the information your looking for.

If you are worried they will find out, then don't fear because Spokeo doesn't notify people that you're looking at their online content. This means that employers could easily track employee's online adventures and ex-boyfriends could track ex-girlfriends without their knowledge. Bradley says that "It must be a gold mine for private investigators, stalkers and other unsavory people."

This does cause me to be concerned. I know that if you are careful and don't make things public or if you use a dummy e-mail account for social networks then you will be fine. Although, it bothers me that searching with my professional e-mail address, it claimed I had social network accounts that I was unaware of. Therefore, it is either lying or providing false information.

Either way, It can be a positive tool for a small business, consumers, Craiglist and eBay users, job applicants, employers, investors, entrepreneurs, consultants, parents and others. It can be used to get more information about an employers that you have an interview with. Parents can check on who their kids are dating. You can check on who you're dating or a someone you are thinking of dating.

There are positive and negatives of Spokeo but it all depends on how it is used. It can be used for either good and evil. What would you or will you use Spokeo for?

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