Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spokeo: You're All Getting Suckered, Suckers.

For the past several years there have been a bunch sites which aggregate people's public information. Some of the better known sites are Pipl, 123People, PeekYou and Spock. Recently, there's been all types of press and online buzz about Spokeo. They're essentially no different from the other sites I listed except in one simple facet - they're pretty good at social media.

The news of Spokeo sharing your "private" personal info caught on like wildfire on Facebook. You probably saw a few posts about it from one of your friends, you might have even posted it yourself. All of the posts were nearly identical, people were clearly copying and pasting. From there, actual news outlets started picking up on this. Every time I see another article or segment on the news I smash my head against the wall.

Let me ask you something - where do you think the original message came from? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Spokeo started this shit up. Information aggregation is not new, your information being public is not new (and it is your fault, by the way), these sites are not new. Below is a variation of the message being sent around. How do people not see this is viral marketing 101?

There's a site called, a new online USA phone book with your personal info: everything from pics on FB or web, your credit score, home value, income, age, children, etc. Remove yourself by searching for your name, copy the URL of your page, use this new link fill in the information. Check your email for the confirmation and follow those instructions.

So why is this news? Because anything you plaster all over Facebook becomes a story. If your business offers a service which is a bit scandalous, make it sound more scandalous! Then take to Facebook and plant a message about how everyone's info is public and they're totally fucked. Now YOU better tell your stupid friends because they're in danger too.

Meanwhile, Spokeo is sitting back watching their traffic skyrocket. Sure, a few people come by and remove themselves from the listings but not many. A small price to pay for making the 10 o'clock news (who are morons). The lesson here is think about what you're copying and pasting before you do it. You might be part of a not-so-elaborate marketing scheme. Don't let shitty aggregator sites work your ass and end up front page news.

Oh, and if you really want to hurt these types of sites how about changing your privacy settings on Facebook and deleting old profiles (Friendster & LiveJournal can go dude)? I tend to think that blocking their source feed makes a lot more sense then sending all of your friends to check out their site. Don't be dumb.

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