Is spy site threatening your safety? - | WBTV Charlotte

Is spy site threatening your safety?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It is the newest phenomenon to hit the Web, and it sells itself as a spy site.

Spokeo.com promises to reveal "shocking" information about your family, friends, and acquaintances.

All it asks is a small fee...and unchecked access to your email.

Here's how it works.

Spokeo runs through your email address book, and uncovers details about everyone in it - the kind of details that don't turn up in a simple Internet search.

If it's buried somewhere on the Web, this site will find it, from what you buy on Amazon to that photo snapped at a party.

It can't dig up anything that isn't already out there, but it does make information you never intended to make public much easier to find.

And Spokeo also offers free profiles on everybody, spilling everything from your salary to your zodiac sign.

But when we showed people those profiles, much of the information on them was plainly wrong. Mistakes ran rampant - the site mixed up ethnicity, professions, marriage status, and income levels.

"It's not accurate," says cyber expert Theresa Payton. "It's just crawling the web, pulling everything they can find."

We spoke to Spokeo's creator, 28-year-old Harrison Tang.

"My college roommate and I actually created Spokeo," he said. "We understand this is just a beta product and there's a lot of things we need to work on."

Tang says he's trying to improve the site's accuracy...by digging up more dirt.

"If we aggregate more sources, you know, more authoritative sources, we can definitely improve the accuracy a lot," Tang said.

But Payton says even if the info is right, there are concerns.

"Like Cyber stalking somebody," she said. "Using it to stalk them or to say if you don't do something, I'm going to release this information...someone could literally profile you and use it to trick you or children into thinking you know them."

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