So, if you haven’t heard, Spokeo.com is a new website that aggregates your online data. At this point, I’ve personally been sent messages on Facebook and through multiple chat lists. But back to the main topic – in layman’s terms, Spokeo is an online phonebook that tells anyone who looks up your name where you live, your phone number, etc. Yet that comes with a big if. Many web users, when they hear of the site, have a moment of panic. Anyone in the world can find out where I live? They have a picture of my house from Google Maps? This is horrifying!
Except, it isn’t. The first time I looked myself up on Spokeo, I could barely find anything. Yes – my name and email address exist on the web, but I didn’t dig up anything damaging or security-threatening. Although people are worried about their privacy, Spokeo is an aggregator meaning it only collects what’s already out there. That means if Spokeo is somehow able to post your address, and phone number, that means you’ve stored private information somewhere public. Meaning, that it’s not thanks to Spokeo that everyone can find out information about your life – it’s thanks to you.
So the first step in dealing with Spokeo is really simple: take your page off of the web. While Spokeo is a little bit creepier, because it gathers all the information together, it’s really not that much different from Googling yourself (which I advise all of you to do). After you get rid of your Spokeo page, the next step is to actually make sure that information you would prefer to be private is actually inaccessible! I admit to putting too much of myself out there in the heydays of Myspace and when I first got a Facebook but it’s different now.
In recent times, people are worrying more and more about internet privacy. With aggregator sites like Spokeo, Pipl, Intelius, and more (no, Spokeo was not even close to being the first site) the first step in protecting your identity online falls in your own hands. So please stop freaking out about Spokeo. I can’t say anything about the information that can be bought (although some of the websites listed above claim that its for the most part inaccurate), but the way people conduct themselves online is the main issue here. We’re not victims. If you want to protect your privacy, do it.