Spokeo is a data scraping service that scours the Internet for people’s personal information, and makes it available to anyone.
If you go to spokeo.com and search for your name, the odds are pretty good that you are going to find your address (or possibly other places you have lived), your family tree, phone numbers, as well as some of your interests. The information tends to be fairly accurate, and it is accessible by anyone.
Spokeo doesn’t seem to keep a standing database, they pull your information from the Internet live, and they do it rather quickly. I find it equal parts impressive and scary.
Removing yourself from spokeo.com
- Search spokeo.com for yourself
- When you find yourself, copy the URL of the page
- Go to spokeo.com/privacy
- Paste in the URL, fill in your email address, and type in the CAPTCHA key
- Go to your email, and click the link they sent to finish off the deed
Keep in mind, Spokeo only allows you to kill two entries per email address, so you might have to use a few email addresses if they have multiple entries for you. In my case, they listed my parents address, one of my college addresses, and my current home.
I also recommend you search for your grandparents (or other non-tech savvy folks in your life) and help them delete their entries.
The information that Spokeo is making available is information that is already on the Internet. Their argument is that they are only making it easier to access what’s already there. On that point, I can’t really disagree.
However, I see this as one of those problems that while it can be solved, perhaps it’s best left unsolved.
This isn’t really a service for the individuals who’s information is published, it’s for other people to gather information about them. I showed Spokeo to a few friends and no one said, “Wow, I’m delighted to see that I’m listed.” The general response was more along the lines of, “Eww, that’s creepy. Delete.”