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Spokeo - new stalking social networking site?

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I received the following concerning email today from Spokeo, a site that collects user information from many social websites including picasa, flickr, myspace etc and uses this data to reconstruct friends so you can stay up to date with what they're doing. They stress they only use public available information, i.e. information you can find if you know all the user accounts from certain people and visited the websites individually. However the organisation and collection of this data is automatic and there does not seem to be a way to prevent this from happening. I got the following email (I had never heard of spokeo before this):

As a courtesy, we are notifying you that Spokeo users have found the following accounts for you:

     <account removed> on Flickr
    <account removed> on Digg
     <account removed> on imeem
     <account removed> on Picasa
     <account removed> on Pandora
     <account removed> on Stumbleupon
     <account removed> on Multiply
     <account removed> on iLike

read moreIf you would like to make these accounts private, please
change the privacy settings on the original network and
Spokeo will update its search results to reflect your changes.

To find your friends on Spokeo, signup now.
This is a one-time courtesy notification about your online privacy.
If you wish to opt out of all future emails, click here.

Spokeo respects the privacy policies of your social networks.
Your content can only be read in Spokeo by the same people allowed to read it in your network.
Want to know more? Read our privacy policy.

Copyright © 2008 Spokeo, Inc. All rights reserved.
1685 Plymouth Street #200, Mountain View, CA 94043
--- End quote ---

The thing is that many of these accounts have different usernames and personal information, the only way that I can see that hey are connected is via e-mail address. I have not looked into finding other people but if this information is available to them then it makes it extremely easy to hack someone's online life if you somehow retrieve a password to one of these sites (security breach or easy guess). Spokeo also  encourages you (although you don't have to) to register using your gmail / aim / yahoo login details, meaning that your google checkout information could now be linked in to all this.

To retrieve this information manually would require a very determined person to work for at least a couple of hours.. Do you manage your privacy settings on all the services you have ever tried out? Picasa for example implemented privacy options at a later stage - so it's likely that some information can be found. Thanks to spokeo I have now deleted accounts on many of the services it found.

Find your friends. Track your friends. But it's not opt-in, there is not even an opt-out. The meta gathering process in my opinion requires additional privacy controls. Is this allowed by Law?

Am I the only one that finds this very worrying. As far as I can see in the hands of the wrong people this could cause major problems. I'm waiting on a response from spokeo.

This could be legitimate, but it sounds more like phishing to me.  Be careful if they ask you to provide your log-in information and/or password in order to be removed from their list.  It may just be a way of getting you to give them your personal information.  Try hovering over the addresses they give, just to get an idea if you might be connecting to some phishing site.  Just a precaution, that's all.  Maybe I'm just getting too suspicious of unsolicited "warnings."

Sounds like a spam email... you might find this blog article an interesting read. Here's another one: Spokeo? More like Spooky-o; bad practice taken to the extreme.


I don't know how I missed this post 2 years ago, but this really is spooky!

Seriously. Go to (USA only) and type in your name (and any past names for you married ladies). If you don't like your information being displayed, click on your name (at the left) and then copy the URL of your profile, then click the Privacy link in the bottom right corner of the page. You will be given the opportunity to paste the URL to opt out of the service.

You may also want to consider the other ways people might be able to search for you. E-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc.

You will probably have to do this multiple times if your name brings up multiple search results.

The good news is that I just did this and was instantly removed from the search results.

Technology sure is amazing, but also really scary when you consider the ways it can be abused.

thanks for telling us about this!  I was able to remove myself as well.


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