Internet Address Book – Web anonymity down the drain
There’s a new search site called the Internet Address Book. Put in a person’s name and town and they’ll try to find them on all of the top social networks: MySpace, Friendster, LinkedIn, Flickr, ICQ, Xanga and Hi-5. This looks like a great resource for digging up dirt on blind dates and job interviewees.
Not only does it do social site search, it also allows you to register for free. You too can join/link your photos of getting drunk with friends and/or artistic nude shots (Flickr) to the web accounts you use for hitting on teenage girls (MySpace) and your job resume (LinkedIn). Why not throw in your high school reunion (Classmates) for good measure? I’m sure they’d love to find out you have a blog (Blogger) where you still talk about that time they pulled down your pants during recess.
(And before the accusations of Pot vs Kettle start being made, I’m aware that I have a blog and I just mentioned that time they pulled my pants down during recess. Let he who is still wearing his pants during recess cast the first stone.)
Of course, that’s just the list of what they let you easily search. If you register yourself on the Internet Address Book they support linking almost any online social application.
(Big table stolen from their website, images are hotlinked so leave a comment if they stop showing up)
I’m having flashbacks to 1999 and SixDegrees, one of the first social networking tools I ever tried. More specifically, I’m having flashbacks to the vitriolic hate mail from friends who started getting spammed after I uploaded my address book to “invite my friends to SixDegrees”. Will this be another sms.ac (aka scams)? Time will tell. My guess is that the company is on the up-and-up, but the only thing I could find resembling a privacy statement was from the FAQ:
3.2 What does The Internet Address Book do with my details?
The Internet Address Book will never make improper use of your details and will furthermore do everything within its power to safeguard the safety of your details.
I see the good intentions, but I don’t see the guarantee that they won’t sell the information to third parties.
I think this company will do well. People will enter their information out of the pure joy of having another place they can crosslink themselves in a big bubble of socialization (or perhaps it is as chartreuse says and they are all looking for one friend).
The Internet Address Book will developed a good database of self-provided information on Internet users. That information could be interesting to a lot of companies, especially if they could buy the ability to contact users who are using their competitors services with special deals.
This also serves a real need. People change cellphone numbers and email addresses every couple of years. It is so easy to lose contact, harder to regain that connection (do you have the snail mail addresses of all your friends?).
Anyone who thinks that signing up for a site like this is a good idea has never had a current girlfriend scour the Internet for references to ex-girlfriends and had to live in the aftermath.
I feel sorry for the current crop of teenagers. At least those BBSes with my teenage angst are gone, and not captured on the Way Back Machine forever. I’m sure plenty of people have already felt the pain of UseNet archives being fully searchable.
There something to be said for not signing up to websites with your real name, and not using the same pseudonym on multiple services (or at least use a pseudonym that is a common word). Even though I have accounts on all of the searchable sites on Internet Address Book, the only one I was able to find using my real name was my LinkedIn profile.
I was able to remove my LinkedIn profile from the Internet Address Book search results by logging into LinkedIn and setting my Public Profile to None (off).
There was around 100 name-doppelgangers on MySpace, but no me. Perhaps the secret to Internet anonymity is having a common name?
>> Internet Address Book website
 I made the assumption that hiding my identity on a website that hosts my resume might be against my interests. Luckily I didn’t give them my real address, phone number, job history or city. You can never be too safe.