What Does Spokeo Say About You?

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Do you know about Spokeo? If you don't, maybe you should, because it knows a whole lot about you.

A simple search can find a person's name, address, home value, even hobbies. For a small fee, you can monitor your friends online activity, so if they upload or update anything online, you'll know about it.

"There's lot of information out there," MSU Computer Science Professor Richard Enbody said.

Enbody said all Spokeo is doing is pulling public information from phone books, real estate listings, and social networking sites and bringing it to one place, creating an online identity for each of us.

"We usually think of this information as being in a courthouse somewhere," Enbody said. "It always has been public, but it hasn't been easily available."

So what does Spokeo say about you? We went to Wired Cafe in Lansing Tuesday and asked people to search themselves.

For the most part, Sabrina Cramer said, it was accurate.

"The stuff that was correct about me was pretty basic stuff, so it doesn't bother me that it's on there. It didn't have my home address or phone number," Cramer said.

While Goldie Currie said the opposite.

"It says I'm a machinist, which is completely wrong," Currie said.

But regardless of what it shows, this MSU senior said something about it makes her uncomfortable.

"It does make me nervous that my parents names and city where I grew up came up," she said.

Enbody said, maybe it should.

"The question is how comfortable are we with that?" Enbody said. "Should there be laws out there to protect us from having information out there, or do some think, the cows are out of the barn, it's too late to close the barn door."

The Co-founder of Spokeo, Harrison Tang, told News Ten the site started as a way for Stanford grads to monitor their friends online. It evolved into a "people search" that recruiters, employers, and even the police are using.

Tang says contrary to some rumors, you can not pay a fee to get someone's credit history on the site. He adds, you can opt out of Spokeo if you wish, but that doesn't mean your information isn't out there on other sites.


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