Information available on the Internet grows exponentially. I mean, truly …. the number of sites and the amount of information where personal information can be found is staggering and a bit overwhelming, frankly.
Now, I’m a public person — you can find information about my business in any number of places. Those of us in any sort of a public sales role can easily be located. And I don’t mind sharing a bit of personal information as well. After all, my phone number, Web site address, office/work affiliation are plastered all over the place.
Where I take exception, however, is when one particular site takes it upon themselves to gather all of that public … and sometimes not so public … information into a central location and then allows other folks to see it for free, pay for the privilege of seeing it, or perhaps even hack into their database to find it.
Such is the case with spokeo.com. A quick visit to their site, typing my name, located all sorts of information about me, all neatly gathered together and available for curious eyes. The same thing was available for my husband, my children … even one of my grandchildren popped up for heavens sake (and they’re all under 8!) As tightly as possible, I lock down my information on Facebook, Twitter, etc. — everywhere I subscribe. Some info is there for the sharing, but only if you ask to be my friend. I like to pick my friends carefully … but frankly even friends don’t need to know everything! A quick Google search of Spokeo brings up a rabid angry crowd of folks who are incensed that their information is this easily available.
Granted this Spokeo information is a compilation of public information that is available in other places and on other sites. But frankly if someone wants to know that sort of information, they’ll daggone better have to search for it a bit harder. Personally, I also believe that one should not need to chase down all of these public sites to remove oneself from them … seems to me that they should be asking for permission to publish rather than the other way around. I guess I’m a bit old fashioned that way. And yes, this may be a bit naive, but it’s my personal soapbox for the moment.
Here are the steps to removing yourself from Spokeo:
1. Go to www. spokeo.com
2. Type your name into the search box, then click Search or press Enter.
3. If you have a common name, you may need to locate yourself from the list on the left of the screen. Click on your name to see the “teaser” box displaying basic information about yourself. … Whatever you do, don’t pay $$$ to see anything more.
4. Copy the URL address at the top of your browser — this will include your name, usually separated by % symbols, followed by a number and /info. A simple way to copy is to highlight the entire address, then use Ctrl+C
5. Now go back to the home page of Spoke. Click the “Privacy” link at the bottom of the page (it’s in teeny tiny letters). A Remove a Link page will open.
6. Click in the URL text box and paste your personal URL address. (A quick method is to use Ctrl+V)
7. Remove the “/info” that follows the numbers of the URL. Your “ID” number to them must end the URL
8. Type your e-mail address in the email text box, and then also complete the Captcha code.
9. Click Remove Listing. A confirming message will be sent to the e-mail address you provided.
10. Once the confirming message is received, click the “Click Here” link in the phrase “To complete the removal process, please click here.” You should be returned to the Spokeo site with a confirming message that your record has been removed.
From briefly skimming some of the comments about Spokeo on other sites, it appears that it’s possible your record will be re-created should you add a new public record of some sort, e-mail address, etc. You may need to keep an eye on this one.
And .. if you haven’t done so … be sure to go back and check your privacy settings in the public or social media sites you frequent. I believe that one can be active on the Web and out there, but we really do have to be a bit cautious about the type of information that’s easily available. I mean, after all, nobody needs to see my “Wealth” information unless I offer it to them.