Addressing Spokeo Complaints

New technology frequently absorbs the extremes of good and bad reviews upon release. This is particularly true, however, in cases of lesser-known technologies such as Spokeo’s. Spokeo is a people-search engine. Like Google, it searches the web for information. The difference is that Google specializes in finding web pages, whereas Spokeo specializes in aggregating information about people. When a search is launched, Spokeo crawls the web and collects a multitude of third-party public records about a person. It then speedily delivers the findings to the searcher.

The information offered to users through people-search engines such as Spokeo often presents in formats that can be quite different from those users may be more familiar with through other search engines. For some, the salient compilation can be startling when first encountered. Many simply are not aware of the types of information that are available about them on the web. More often than not, however, new technology companies such as Spokeo find that any complaints they receive stem more from lack of familiarity and comfort with the product, than from any real defects in it.

What are some common complaints regarding Spokeo’s people-search technology, and are these complaints valid?  Below we try to sort through some of the complaints and shed light on the myths.

Complaint # 1:  If you upload an e-mail contact list into your Spokeo account, the contacts in your address book will be inundated with spam messages. 

Spokeo has a really cool feature that allows you to upload a contact e-mail list and then track all of your friends’ latest activities across different social networks in one easy place. This feature, however, will not generate SPAM for you or anyone else in your contacts lists. Spokeo is simply a search engine. It aggregates information from different social networking sites about your contacts, and then forwards the information to you in the form of a single feed.  This complaint, hence, is a myth. Your contacts receive no additional communications or SPAM when you use Spokeo or import e-mail addreses. 

Complaint # 2:  Spokeo searches do not yield enough information.

The availability of information is variable between searches and can differ from person to person. That is because the information amassed is highly dependent upon what records are published. You see, Spokeo does not alter the information it delivers. It merely aggregates it from 3rd party sources.  What it can aggregate, however, is reliant upon what has actually been published in the public records it crawls.

Complaint #3:  Search results are inaccurate.

Accuracy of information is only as good as its sources, and the results of Spokeo’s searches are impacted by these sources. When a person puts the wrong set of interests, age, or home information on a marketing survey, social-media site, or in other public records, some of the information aggregated about them can be inaccurate as well.

Users can exercise more control over the accuracy of information published about them by becoming aware of the types of public records that exist, and exercising greater discretion about the type of information they choose to publish.  Spokeo is a useful tool to help people better monitor their online identity.