17
Dec-2007

Being social can be taxing sometimes

Lets say you’re a very social person who has a lot of friends on a lot of networks. How full is your maibox with notifications of their latest shenanigans? Do you log into 14 different websites to keep track of all your family in different parts of the world? Well, you may be interested in Spokeo.

What is Spokeo? I first heard about this evening when visiting a site by another blogger who I don’t think is an Arsenal Fan. Nonetheless he is a lovely person and you should visit his site. Anyway back to the subject of this post “What is Spokeo”? Have you heard of it yet? Let me shed some light on it.

Spokeo tracks friends over 30 networks

As long as your friends are using the same email address, Spokeo can track them automatically. You can see what they are doing on Flickr, Myspace, Bebo, Digg, LinkedIn and another 20 odd websites. Spokeo allows you to see all your friends content in one place. You don’t necessarily have to login to all those accounts to see new updates. You can turn off all the blasted notifications that clog up your email inbox everyday from over zealous bulletin posters.

How do I track people using Spokeo

You can begin to track people using the Spokeo interface by importing your address book. The system will then search for all the publicly available information based on those users email addresses. You can also log into your own social networking or other account and the system will retrieve your friends from there and list their updates in the Spokeo interface. It will also retrieve RSS Feeds.

What about privacy?

spokeo_devil.jpgAs I said earlier, the Spokeo system retrieves publicly available information. The information that you see in your account is nothing that you would not have seen, had you not searched for that person on the web, or logged into via the original providers website. According to the company blog, their system encrypts your password and account information and does not store it. In essence you provide the credentials to log into say, your Myspace account, they encrypt it and use it to login and whilst the connection is open, retrieves the updates and places them in you account.

I can see the advantages but their could be potential pitfalls as well

Reading the Spokeo blog, I had to laugh a little to myself in agreement with some of their statements, meant to assure passers by that they are not up to anything sinister. This is a quote from http://blog.spokeo.com

“Please note that if you don’t want friends to find you, by definition, you don’t want to network with others, and you probably shouldn’t join any social network. If you don’t want anyone to see something, you probably shouldn’t share it to begin with. Whenever you share something, that content is no longer private.”

What they say is true, if you don’t want people to know stuff about you, then you shouldn’t publish it online. But what about the stuff that you’ve forgotten about, or may not even know about that has your name or email address attached to it? The people you are tracking don’t know you are doing it, but then again unless someone tells you they hav subscribed to your feed, you don’t really know that either.
I tested the system using an old email address of mine, importing my contacts from the address book. The usual people that I socialize with online were there, but then lo and behold was an old acquaintance but with a completely different name from the one that I knew him as. Now I know this gentleman has recently divorced, and wasn’t particularly forthcoming in all his dealings…could he be carving out another life for himself (in Brazil no less) the Canoe man springs to mind.

I’m off to test the system, and see what it finds about me. Catch up post to follow in a few days.

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  1. Spokeo, find out what YOU are doing online • s t i r l y n - e a r t h m o n k e y /

    […] a follow up to my earlier post which asked and answer the question What is Spokeo?, I thought I would have a deeper play around with the system and try to find out what it found […]

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