Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Social Networking "Spy Site"

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about the explosion of social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. These websites allow people to create personal pages about themselves, and stay connected to people since life moves at the speed of light.

The WSJ went on to report of several aggregator sites that allow you to search for long lost friends anonymously, and the implication was that HR sites might use them to look at potential hires to do background checks. Whatever the case, I checked the sites out, and the one that was most interesting was "Spokeo". The official website is here.

The site basically allows you to create an account for free by using one of your personal email servers like Yahoo. For instance, I created an account using my yahoo email account. Spokeo then imports my contacts, and uses their emails and/or names to search across the social networking spectrum (YouTube, Flikr, Facebook, etc.) for your contacts and their personal sites. The service also allows you to get updates when people add new things to their facebook page, for example. It's an interesting concept, especially if you've lost touch with folks. The one downside is that registering is free, but you have to pay to actually to access the results for some contacts.

All in all though, it was an interesting concept, and the fee is low enough to justify taking a peek into your friend's world. I didn't plunk down the money for expanded service, but it was a pretty cool service concept. The paranoid would be well served to know HR could find you, the secure person would see the technology as interesting, novel, with nothing to hide. But you probably should already be linked up with any friends that might be out there on the web, IMHO. Better to know and make your own decision, as I mean to make no judgments here.