I’m always interested in new sites that help in the search for living relatives. My long-time favorite is ZabaSearch, which I think does a nice job of providing enough detail to be useful without seeming intrusive.
I can’t say the same for a fairly new site called Spokeo.com that bills itself as a “efficient people-search utility. Simply put, it is a search engine that scours the web in search of published information.”
I think of it more as a data aggregator that searches nearly 50 databases, such as phone books, property tax rolls, magazine subscriptions, census, mailing lists, and marketing surveys, plus everything you’ve posted to social networking Web sites like Facebook, MySpace, Amazon.com, LinkedIn, Flickr, and many others, and then gathers the information together in one location by name.
Searching on an individual name returns a list of choices that includes street addresses and cities. Clicking through to an individual record then reveals a phone number and the names of others living in the same household. Additional boxes on the same screen reveal gender, broad age range, and marital status, and the promise of more information for paid subscribers, including email, “wealth data,” hobbies, and business information.
Spokeo’s About page states, “Spokeo’s unique and powerful algorithms can swiftly navigate, sift through, and collect multitudes of scattered data that are spread across hundreds of locations, and synthesize that information in one convenient summary, delivering the most comprehensive snapshot of people-related, public data offered online to date. The search results represent an unparalleled mosaic of the vast stockpiles of public information accessible, and can offer invaluable insight into both the individual being searched, as well as the different types of information published.”
I’m probably from the age demographic that automatically considers most of Spokeo intrusive. Being able to see the names of others in the same household would be valuable for genealogical research, but the rest just feels like a bridge too far, in my opinion. Fortunately, one can opt out of being included in Spokeo. (I suppose it’s enterprising of them to also offer a product called Reputation Defender, which promises to purge any online negatives that appear about you.) And of course Spokeo already has competitors.
Have you used Spokeo for your research? Are you going to opt out?