Anti-Social Networking?

By Kaitlyn Smeland Dhanaliwala | Apr 11, 2008
More Articles by Kaitlyn

We hear a lot these days about the latest social networking tool to become the next biggest trend. Now, I like to read and respond to posts on my favorite blogs as much as the next person. I have also been keeping up with friends and searching for contact information on Facebook since it first came out over five years ago.

Things are evolving in social media, as are the marketing implications which go hand in hand with it. Sometimes, though, I find myself doubting whether the public will ultimately accept the ubiquity of their personal activities and personas in the online social environment. How much personal information is just too much? Is there a line beyond which people just won’t be interested anymore?

Enter Spokeo. is a social networking aggregator site which allows you to register with an email account, automatically upload all your contacts, and track those contacts’ actions online across a number of other networks.

And there are quite a lot of networks tracked by Spokeo- currently 39 to be exact. There are all the big names- Facebook, Blogger, Digg, MySpace, Twitter, etc. However, things get interesting when you can track what pictures people viewed in Flickr or Picasa, what songs they gave a thumbs up on Pandora, what movie they placed in their online movie rental queue.

When I heard about Spokeo in an email from my friend, my curiosity was piqued. I registered at, and all my Gmail contacts were automatically imported. I was also able to search very easily (by email address) for a few other friends not in my contact book. The results were pretty interesting, and I actually ended up downloading one friend’s Pandora playlist to my own account because I liked it so much.

But I have to admit, the whole experience felt a little too much like snooping around someone’s desk or rummaging through their closet, reading letters, going through their music collections, and looking at their pictures. For the first time on a social networking site, I really felt like I was spying. It’s enough to make you feel anti-social.

To be fair, Spokeo makes it a point to mention that all the information presented on their site is publicly available through each individual social network. If I wanted to, I could visit each participating social network and find this information about my friends. Spokeo just gathers it all in one place.

Perhaps sites like Spokeo will bring people together based on common interests. And they might give marketers more information on which to base their targeting efforts. But one thing is for sure- the next time I add something like Gigli to my movie queue, I’ll be looking over my shoulder, hoping no one will bear witness to my cheesiness. And I am sure aggregator sites like this one will keep many people mindful of the personal content they put out there everyday.

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