We wanted to follow up on our first post about the importance of removing your own information as well as that of your kids from Spokeo, and look more in depth at a couple of issues that arise when your profile information is available on Spokeo.
The first is that Spokeo does in fact have information about minors available on the site, and the second is that quite a bit of profile information is provided for free on the website—two very negative aspects of the website.
Though Spokeo indicates that they do not collect or aggregate information on minors, they also unfortunately can’t always tell if a profile actually is that of a minor. A child may register for a site with an incorrect age just so that they can use it.
CNET reports that “a new survey suggests, in fact, that 38 percent of the kids on Facebook are not alright by Facebook’s age rules. For they are aged 12 or younger.” To use Facebook, you need to be 13 of years of age. What this tells us is that there are plenty of kids creating online profiles for themselves on many different sites and using the incorrect age in order to gain access. But if they keep all of their other personal information the same, especially their name and home address, it is quite simple to aggregate their information and ultimately see it associated with their parents profiles on Spokeo. Incidentally, it’s also then quite simple for predators to find this information and use it with the intent to impact your child in some way.
In addition, much of the information on Spokeo is free. Though Spokeo requires payment in order to view one’s full street address, you can still find out the street the individual lives on for starters, as well as 6 out of 10 digits of a phone number. It’s not that hard to get the rest of the information right by doing a little additional research, and let’s be honest—Spokeo charges at most a mere $5/month for access to this information, so if you want it badly enough, you can get it on the cheap.
All of this said, have no fear, as opting out of Spokeo is simple. Just navigate to www.spokeo.com and search for your listing (or listings, as there are often numerous for the same person if you have moved a bit). Copy and paste the URL for your listing (or that of your child) on Spokeo’s opt-out page. You will go through a quick email verification process and then hopefully this will be over.
Remind your children not to register for sites that ask for their personal information and that it’s easy for you to find out that they are doing so with sites like Spokeo at your fingertips.
In short, there is no doubt that you should remove your profile(s) and any profile associated with your child or children as soon as possible from Spokeo. There are too many people out in cyberspace who can and do use this information for negative purposes. There is just enough information provided about an individual or child on Spokeo that is available for free that it’s not worth taking the risk of having a profile on the site.
Make sure to discuss with your children the dangers of lying about their age online (which include a potential profile on Spokeo).
Contributor: Christina Aley is a freelance writer who writes about everything from matters of managing your online business reputation to digital marketing solutions for small businesses.