Saturday, December 18, 2010 is NOT a myth: your privacy needs tending to.

Okay, here's the deal. is basically a search engine that aggregates information pertaining to individual names, email addresses, and phone numbers from online public sources such as phone books, real estate listings, and government records, plus profile entries from websites like Facebook, MySpace,, LinkedIn, Flickr, and many others (the Spokeo site lists upwards of 50 potential data sources).

Similar "people search" services include Pipl, ZoomInfo, ZabaSearch, Radaris, and Intelius.

It can indeed be shocking to see how much information can be dug up about you in 15 seconds — your home address, your marital status, religion, hobbies, names of friends and family members, personal photos, a satellite image of your home, even your estimated income and credit score.

Just as troubling is the fact that no one fact-checks the assembled data, meaning it can be partially or wholly incorrect.

The thing is, if Spokeo can find it, the info is publicly available and can be found online by anyone, with or without the convenience of a

The website does provide a form whereby you can delete your individual listing (though some users report that this is easier said than done), but don't miss the critical point: Simply removing your search results from doesn't prevent anyone from accessing the same data by other means.

To protect your personal data on social networking services, you must either refrain from providing it to sites like MySpace and Facebook in the first place, or adjust your privacy settings on each website accordingly. Also, if your phone number and address are listed in the White Pages, that information is publicly accessible online, as are some government records (accessibility varies by state) and real estate listings.

1 comment:

Bean said...

We ditched our land line about two and half years ago, and it certainly helps not having your name, address, and phone number listed in the white pages. I went to spokeo, and it had our names and address, but everything else it showed was incorrect, which is fine with me. Hopefully there will never be a cell phone directory, and if there ever is we certainly opt to be unlisted.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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