Social Media Search: A Stalker's Paradise?

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January 26, 2009 - 11:42 A.M.

Social media search: A stalker's paradise?

Don't look now, but you're being watched. And now that I've signed up for, I could be the one watching you.

Spokeo is a search engine that uses email addresses to find people across the social Web. Give the site your log-on info for Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, or AOL - or just upload your personal address book; Spokeo will scour 41 social networks and collect all information associated with each email address. Blog entries, Linked In profiles, Flickr photostreams, Twitter tweets, Digg comments, Amazon wish lists - and a whole lot more - all on one tidy little Web page. And every time they add new content, Spokeo lets you know.

In other words, for just $3 to $5 a month Spokeo gives you the ability to stalk near-total strangers in new and fascinating ways.

I don't know about you, but my email address book is filled with people I couldn't pick out of a police lineup. I've probably met fewer than 2 percent of these people; I've spoken on the phone to maybe 1 out of 20. But suddenly I have this window into their lives that's, well, just a little bit creepy.

For instance: There's a senior PR rep for Yahoo whom I met once five years ago. Now I know what she looks like nine months pregnant and what color she's painted her child's nursery (thank you, Flickr). There's the former director of communications for a huge Web company who also apparently frequents discussion forums for the Paranormal Research Society. (Remember: The truth is out there.) Then there's this person named Indigo - I haven't the foggiest idea who she is or how she got into my address book - but I know she's a freak for The Beatles and the soundtrack from Juno.

Story at computerworld:

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