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Dec 10

Cool or scary?

by Harrison • December 10, 2007

People Search

Whenever I introduce Spokeo to my friends, their first reactions are always "Wow!", then "Hm … this is a little scary", then "This is freaking cool!". After saying those three things, they’ll just ignore my existence and start checking out their friends’ content.

You probably thought the same things, too.

Even though I designed this website, Spokeo still impresses me by how much stuff it finds. It shows me how active my friends are on the Web as well as how mainstream social networks truly are. Before using Spokeo, I thought only a handful of my friends used social networks. Now I see that everyone, young or old, is part of this revolution. The Internet has quietly transcended from a network of computers to a web of interconnected people.

The funny thing is that this data was publicly available to you and others for a long time. While Spokeo appears to know everything, it actually only finds publicly available information on the Internet (which explains why some of you reported that Spokeo failed to find couple of your friends – Spokeo does not find private information). Of course, no one is diligent enough to go through 30+ social networks to find and track their friends. This is why you need Spokeo to automate that process for you.

As much as I enjoy people hyping Spokeo, I feel responsible to demystify its capability. Spokeo is not a super-machine that mysteriously knows what everyone is doing. It is just a system that automates what was previously tedious. Spokeo facilitates the flow of information and presents it in an organized fashion.

Now that you understand the mechanics of Spokeo, do you still find it scary? Personally, I still do feel a bit overwhelmed, not by Spokeo, but by the sheer number of my friends’ posts. We have entered a new age in which people feel more comfortable and compelled to share their information. It’s a irreversible trend, and it entails exciting new possibilities

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4 Responses to Cool or scary?

  1. ppedersen says: Dec 10th, 2007

    Sounds quite exciting. I am quite interested now in what I will find. As soon as I can log in, I will surely be using this a lot!

  2. Spokeo (Spooky?) « bibliothécaire says: Dec 11th, 2007

    […] un coup d’oeil sur Spokeo, découvert via Techcrunch (à quoi j’ai pris le screenshot). Cool & scary. Le fonctionnement de la chose, pour ce que j’en ai compris: vous entrez une de vos adresses […]

  3. harrison says: Dec 11th, 2007

    To those who cannot register, we are still experiencing a lot of traffic at the moment. Our servers are trying as hard as they can to fulfill everyone’s requests.

    Thank you very much for your patience and understanding.

  4. anon says: Mar 8th, 2008

    But you wouldn’t be able to aggregate information about these people without us giving you their email addresses, right? It’s not so much “public” as “searchable by the public”.

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