Spokeo is the New Creepy People Search Engine

May 7, 2010

Spokeo is the new people search engine that's freaking users out, because when you "spokeo" yourself there's a good chance you'll find your home address, phone number, interests, gender, occupation, wealth level, marital status, photos, and more. The search engine compiles information from public records and public social media network pages to put together a pretty complete profile of individuals. My local news station ran a piece on Spokeo and profiled a user, and the lower third of the screen described her as "weirded out by web site" (which amused me enough to take a screenshot).

My Spokeo search results were mixed in the accuracy department. It listed a few old home addresses of mine, but not my current one; it also missed the mark on a few other details, like saying my occupation is "retired" and misidentifying my spouse's ethnicity.

Creepy people search engines aren't new. Back in 2005, ZabaSearch was the tool of choice for stalkers. There's also Pipl, Wink, ZoomInfo, and hell, Facebook and Google. But if you don't like the idea of people finding out how much your house is worth on Spokeo, just click on the Privacy link at the bottom of a page of Spokeo search results to request that the engine remove your listing. You will have to enter an email address to do so. How accurate are Spokeo results for your name?

Not so much. The stuff that is accurate is pretty easy to find. Other stuff that something like pipl ferrets out with somewhat creepy accuracy is wrong. And interest etc. is middling (and much is so generic and widely applicable that it’s almost like a horoscope),

Gordon Haff
May 7 10 at 8:56 am

Despite being pretty jacked in to the grid and owning a home, my name does not come up in their search engine. Neither does my wife’s married name, but under her maiden name it has her as single, but residing in our current residence for the correct length of time. I think I need to go have a conversation with her now.

khabalox [+4]
May 7 10 at 9:02 am

Nothing for me, it just has a little info when I search for my email address.

milrtime83
May 7 10 at 9:05 am

They found nothing on me. (My name doesn’t even show up.) Emails and phone numbers also showed nothing. You can do a whole heck of a lot better on Google.

It did not find me at all – by any variant of my name. I guess I don’t exist! It found my husband, but at an ANCIENT address and with none of the few details correct. Not very creepy. A Google search for either of us turns up more than this thing did!

MrsWindaker
May 7 10 at 9:58 am

Completely missing. Literally thousands with my name, but none anywhere near me or resembling me.

Which is really strange since I spent 6 years in public office with my name in the newspapers several times a week.

I have to agree that one can do much better with Google.

Dan
May 7 10 at 10:24 am

They’re probably not going to actually take down your information, they’re just going to add an email address field to you in the database http://www.snopes.com/computer/internet/spokeo.asp

It found me, but lumped me and a neighbor with the same surname into the same household. I do wish my listed income and home value was accurate! :D

Warren Harrison [+2]
May 7 10 at 10:52 am

I’ve tested this against my own name, and with a few people I know well. The results have been singularly unimpressive. It ferreted out someone’s Pandora playlists from several years ago, but in the absence of actual useful info on the person, that doesn’t seem like much of a threat!

ttaisieditor [+1]
May 7 10 at 10:55 am

My stuff was wildly inaccurate when searched for by name, so I used that URL and asked them to remove it. When I look up by name, it doesn’t show me anymore. When I look up by email, it finds stuff but it’s all stuff that’s publicly accessible, like Flickr images, so that’s fine.

The inaccurate stuff bugged me.

pschultz
May 7 10 at 11:57 am

This was actually pretty accurate for me. A good bit was stuff was right but a good bit was also wrong. For example, I don’t have kids, I don’t like shopping, I care about politics, etc etc etc.

This really doesn’t bother me that bad. Just the other day actually, I experimented to see how easy it was to find the address of someone using public facebook data, Google Phonebook and Whitepages.com. Surprisingly, it’s not that hard to do. Spokeo is just putting all of that public information in one spot which is probably why it’s freaking everybody out.

Though at least people are finally realizing what all is out there about them on the web.

Jacob Roeland [+9]
May 7 10 at 12:30 pm

I tried it and almost nailed everything… I think I need to close everything down and hide in a box for a while.

Sergio Vega [+1]
May 7 10 at 2:57 pm

Not sure how “new” it is.. First used it well over a year ago

Yves Dropp
May 7 10 at 6:45 pm

I disagree with the Snopes suspicion that the site is a scheme to gather people’s email addresses. Likely they already have them anyway. There are much easier ways to get people’s email addresses anyway.

For my (unique) full name, nothing turned up, but under various email addresses some information did turn up. I used the privacy form to block all of them, and now it simply says ‘Search results for this email address are not available.’

Joost Schuur [+1]
May 8 10 at 1:19 am

It didn’t find me, and my husband is listed as single. Surprisingly he is listed at our current address, even though I am primary on all the paperwork. Our home value is so inaccurate it’s crazy.

This failed miserably when I searched on Leo Laporte. Didn’t know his occupation, I mean who doesn’t know that?

I seriously dislike the premium sign up to find out about peoples finances too.

techpops [+7]
May 9 10 at 8:45 am

Interesting…

It didn’t find me or my wife. As a web guy, I’ve been online a lot, for 15 years or so but I’ve guarded my identity pretty well. I’m glad to see it has worked somewhat.

Brad [+4]
May 10 10 at 5:49 am

Barack Obama is listed as “not interested in politics”

@TechPops “I seriously dislike the premium sign up to find out about peoples finances too.”

I am a Premium member, and the information they provide on Finances is both limited and vague. Their disclaimer says the information is just summarized from various public sources. I also remember reading an interview where the founder, Harrison Tang, said that they do not collect credit scores or social security numbers or bank account information.
In other words, the financial information is just a summary like the other information provided and should not be taken as anything but an impartial reference based on what information is already available on teh web.

younger1
May 10 10 at 11:41 am

I live in Australia, so I couldn’t search for myself, but I’m surprised that out of all my friends and family in the U.S. with Facebook and Twitter accounts, etc., my 80 year-old Grandma who doesn’t own a computer was the only one I found a listing for!

Corina Mackay
May 14 10 at 9:52 pm

Yeah, not too scary. Searching on my name (with or without middle name or initial) produced no matches.

My email address did produce some stuff, but nothing compromising: for my real name it listed one of my common usernames. It got my gender right (woohoo, congrats), and my location generally right – Los Angeles (narrowing it down to 1 in 7 million males in the greater LA area). It listed my age as 91, which is only off by, let’s see… a half a century and change.

Spokeo’s email search did pull up a few pictures from my Flickr account, a couple of which were of me. It also claimed to have info from 6 (unspecified) social networking sites. I can only think of two such accounts that contain any of my personal info, and neither has much.

I ain’t scared o’ you, Spokeo.

Derek
May 16 10 at 11:03 am

I couldn’t find anything on myself. My father is apparently married to my sister and living in my mother’s (his ex-wife’s) house, though. I imagine Mom is pretty upset about that.

Ragmana [+1]
May 18 10 at 7:13 pm

Ha, that is funny. It identified me as African-American, and I am as pasty white European as they come.

AndreasSch [+1]
May 25 10 at 10:22 pm


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