|Foundation date||Mountain View, California, USA (2006)|
|Headquarters||Pasadena, California, USA|
|Alexa rank||2,146 (August 2012[update])|
|Type of site||People Search Engine|
|Registration||None Required for General Use|
Spokeo is a social network aggregator website that aggregates data from many online and offline sources (such as phone directories, social networks, photo albums, marketing surveys, mailing lists, government censuses, real estate listings, and business websites). This aggregated data may include demographic data, social profiles, and estimated property and wealth values.
All data collected by Spokeo is publicly accessible from its original sources. According to the site, Spokeo does not originate data and information available is only as good as its source. The information available originates from information people provide that becomes public information “even if a person isn't on Facebook or Twitter.” Some users reported problems with removing their listings, and some independent reports verified that the removal process was "spotty." Since then, Spokeo launched the 4th major revision of its website on March 1, 2010 and announced in mid-April that these bugs were resolved. The extent and types of information available through the redesigned site have led to controversy resulting in increased internet traffic.
On November 17, 2010, Spokeo 5.0 was released. Spokeo 5.0 implements graphics, icons, and a new design intended to present information in a more visual way. The future plans for Spokeo 5.0 include adjustments to the design and new interactive elements.
On December 27, 2010, Spokeo released Username search. Spokeo username search scans across social networks, blogs, photo albums, dating sites, music networks, video sites, ecommerce stores, and other web services in real-time to help find online profiles with similar usernames.
Spokeo was founded in 2006 by a group of Stanford graduates. It was initially developed as a social network aggregator similar to FriendFeed that allowed users to keep track of their friends' status updates on multiple websites.
In 2008, Spokeo redesigned the website by changing the interface to allow for easier searching. Under the revision, users could import contacts from email address books and create "Friend Lists" that provide updates to recent profile changes for public profiles. Information reflected friends’ updated blogs, video playlists, and photo albums. As a techjaws.com article pointed out, this feature allows a user to start browsing immediately without any "tedious set up." Pandia Search Engine News wrote: "It was a real eye opener when I saw all the content that Spokeo came up with on my friends and contacts based on nothing but my Gmail address. Here are Flixter movie ratings, Pandora play lists and Last.fm favorites, Flickr and Picasa photos, Twitter posts, Vox blog entries (along with uploaded videos, images etc), Digg and Stumbleupon reviews, LinkedIn information, MySpace posts, Slide.com uploads, Amazon.com wish list items and more."
Spokeo utilizes deep web crawlers to aggregate data. The technology reduces data acquisition costs and provides the information free of cost. Spokeo's search algorithm allows users to search by name, then state, and city and organizes the results by location.
The name of the website was coined by Harrison Tang and his co-founders when they were students at Stanford in 2006. “Spokeo” is a made-up word that is a metaphor for a wheel’s ability to connect in a circular way. Spokes, or the rods radiating from the center, or hub, of a wheel, forms a circle. Similarly, the name is designed to reflect how people can become more interconnected by using the website.
Privacy and safety concerns 
On Spring 2010, Spokeo released version 4 of its website. Shortly thereafter, CBS47.tv, which serves the Fresno, California viewing area, aired a short piece on Spokeo outlining local law enforcement agencies' concerns that the site would enable cyberstalking. They reported that credit information was being included in some online profiles and that Spokeo had recently removed a feature that provided photos of private residences. (As of Sep 16, 2011, Spokeo still shows photographs of some private residences). Search results on Spokeo offer to provide a "Credit Estimate" and "Wealth Level" information, as well as information about a target's mortgage value, estimated income, and investments. In an interview with Michigan-based WILX-TV Spokeo's founder, Harrison Tang, said that credit information is not actually available through Spokeo.
On Facebook in particular, several users complained on the "Spokeo" message board that the website was a violation of their privacy, and new groups were started to demand an end to the service. Several of these users claimed that information set to private on Facebook and other social networking accounts was still appearing on Spokeo's website. According to Spokeo's Blog, whenever content is changed from public to private, Spokeo will automatically detect and reflect this privacy change the next time it re-crawls content.
On June 30, 2010 the Center for Democracy and Technology filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Spokeo.com violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by offering credit ratings without any of the controls mandated by the act. Additionally, they alleged that Spokeo.com engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. On July 7, 2010, Spokeo released a blog titled "Spokeo Responds To CDT’s Complaint."
On June 12, 2012 The Federal Trade Commission fined Spokeo with an $800,000 fine for collecting details about people’s lives and selling them to would-be employers without protecting those individuals’ privacy - the first FTC fine involving personal data collected online and sold to potential employers. Under the settlement, in addition to the $800,000 fine for Spokeo’s FCRA and FTC Act violations, Spokeo is required to submit compliance reports to the FTC for twenty years.
Removal of personal information 
The Spokeo website contains an opt-out form (accessible from the "Privacy" link on the bottom of every page) that allows users to prevent specific Spokeo pages from displaying search results for their names, phone numbers, or email addresses. The removal of email address search results was implemented by Spokeo on April 19, 2010, and the removal process is the same as that for name and phone listings, although some Gmail users initially complained that the system malfunctioned when they entered their addresses. While it is possible to block your listings from being displayed on Spokeo, they will not be removed from the original sources.
On January 12, 2011, Spokeo released a blog explaining how their opt-out system works. According to the company, when a listing is opted out, a permanent flag is placed on the listing so it does not reappear on Spokeo. However, if a person moves to a new address, or if there are significant typos which prevent Spokeo's computers from matching an existing listing, new listings may appear.
Spokeo offers paid subscriptions that bundles extra features into one package. Premium features include name, phone, email, and username search, and an import feature users can utilize for email address book and social network contacts. Prices range from $14.85 for a three-month subscription to $35.40 for a year-long subscription. All searches include monthly quotas. The company provides business services, including search result data augmentation, CRM and ATS integration, E-commerce customer demographics, and custom projects and consulting. It supports various data sources including social networks, photo albums, music playlists, video sites, business databases, and RSS feeds. Concerns have been raised about the accuracy of these services.
Spokeo's Premium membership features a tracking system. After an account is added to a Friends list, Spokeo regularly checks for new updates from the account, providing a notification in the update counter to allow users to keep track of new information.
See also 
- "Spokeo.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "Privacy Unplugged". July 22, 2010.
- "Privacy FAQs". Retrieved January 2011 24.
- "Keep Your Info Private Online". Kansas City News Story. April 29, 2010. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
- "Spokeo About". Spokeo. February 20, 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- "Catching Up". Retrieved April 30, 2010.
- "Spokeo – the 60th Most Popular Search on Google". Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- "Spokeo 5.0 Launched". Retrieved Nov 18, 2010.
- "Spokeo 5.0 Sneak Preview". Retrieved Nov 18, 2010.
- "Username Search Has Arrived!". Retrieved Dec 29, 2010.
- "Search for Friends". Spokeo. February 5, 2008. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
- "Get The Scoop On People With Spokeo". TechJaws.com. August 15, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
- "Spokeo, the Big Brother of social networking". Pandia Search Engine News. February 25, 2008. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
- "Some personal info will always be on Web". East Valley Tribune. June 13, 2009. Retrieved July 3, 2009.[dead link]
- "CBS47.tv – New Website Sparks Privacy Concerns". April, 2010. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
- "WILX.com – What Does Spokeo Say About You?". April 7, 2010. Retrieved April 7, 2010.
- "People Against Spokeo". Retrieved April 15, 2010.
- "Spokeo Privacy FAQs". Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- "Complaint to the FTC in the Matter of Spokeo". Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- "Spokeo Responds To CDT’s Complaint". Retrieved August 3, 2010.
- Hachman, Mark (July 20, 2010). "Spokeo Suit Claims Site Offers Inaccurate Info". PC Magazine. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
- "FTC Issues First Internet Data Fine". Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- "Spokeo Agrees to $800,000 FTC Settlement". The National Law Review. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- "Spokeo – Remove a Listing". Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- "How Our Opt-Out System Works". Retrieved January 15, 2010.
- "Premium Packages". Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "Internet Products and Services". Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- "Should I be worried about Spokeo.com?". Chicago Tribune. May 28, 2010.
- "About Spokeo". Retrieved December 20, 2010.