Personal Profiles and Other Publicly Available Information
An Internet Hotlist on Detecting and Protecting Your Digital Footprint
created by Professor-Librarian Robert J. Lackie
| Notable Social Networking Sites
| Notable Personal Information Search Engines
| Online Identity/Privacy Information Resources
| Website Author's Information Page
Do you know who you or your friends and family may be 'talking to' or what you may be 'sharing' online?
Social networking sites have become some of the highest traffic sites on the Web. Hundreds of millions of people have joined many of the hundreds of social networking sites available around the world. The number of these sites and those joining them seems to be growing exponentially.
Social networking sites have strong appeal to young adults because of the interactivity between users, and the ability to discover new individuals and groups by looking through other people's profiles and their lists of friends and contacts. Communication and picture-sharing has now become a very easy process. Consequently, these sites have become a haven for the creation of new trends and the dissemination of information.
However, social networking sites are not the only Web locations to find 'public' information on individuals. Besides the huge general purpose search engines, (e.g., Google), there are a wealth of 'people finder' search engines. These personal information search engines have attracted a lot of publicity for the particular type of sensitive personal information that they are easily sharing.
The following links will give you just 'a taste' of the notable social networking sites available, as well as notable personal information search engines providing publicly available data on many of us--probably even you!
Sites for online identity and privacy reports, articles, and protection organizations can also be found on the bottom third of this site. However, don't forget about your local university and public library resources. Libraries, especially with their large number and variety of databases, contain full text articles from books, magazines, journals, and newspapers on detecting and protecting your digital footprint. So, visit a librarian for valuable assistance--they love to help!
The Internet Resources
Notable Social Networking Sites
- Facebook - From Alexa.com: 'About Facebook (facebook.com): A social utility that connects people, to keep up with friends, upload photos, share links and videos.' Back in January 2009, Alexa considered Facebook to be ranked 3rd in the U.S. and 8th in the world. In January 2010, it began being ranked 2nd in the U.S. AND also 2nd in the world. As of January 2011, Facebook was still ranked 2nd in the U.S. and 2nd in the world. Now, in November 2012, Facebook still being ranked #2 in the U.S., but it is #1 in the world--it has serious staying power! Note: Facebook is ranked #1 in seventeen countries right now(http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/facebook.com)
- Flickr - From Alexa.com: 'About Flickr (flickr.com): Picture galleries available with chat, groups, and photo ratings.' Back in January 2009, it was ranked 19th in the U.S. and 31st in the world. In January 2010, it was ranked 22nd in the U.S. and 33rd in the world. As of January 2011, Flickr was ranked 26th in the U.S. and 35th in the world. It has not changed much, since as of November 2012, Flickr is ranked #44 in the U.S. and #57 in the world. Note: Flickr is slightly more popular in nine other countries (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/flickr.com).
- LinkedIn - According to Bloomberg Businessweek on January 21, 2011, LinkedIn is 'the fourth-biggest company by market value on SharesPost’s index,' with an almost $3 billion valuation. From Alexa.com: 'About LinkedIn (linkedin.com): A networking tool to find connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners. Allows registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business.' You join for free and create a profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments. Your profile helps you find and be found by former colleagues, clients, and partners. Your network consists of your connections and the connections of the people they know, linking you to thousands of qualified professionals. Its U.S. rank was 64 and its world rank was 216 back in January 2009. In January 2010, it was ranked 19th in the U.S., and 42nd in the world, and as of January 2011, LinkedIn had a rank of 15 in the U.S. and 20 in the world. In November 2012, LinkedIn improved even more in the rankings, with a rank of #11 in the U.S. and #12 in the world. Note: Seventeen other countries list LinkedIn higher in rank than the U.S. (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/linkedin.com).
- LiveJournal - From Alexa.com: 'About LiveJournal.com (livejournal.com): LiveJournal is a rich, community media platform that willfully blurs the lines between journaling and social networking. Since its inception in 1999, LiveJournal has become home to nearly 25 million users worldwide who come together to celebrate creative expression and find friends who share common passions and interests.' Alexa ranked LiveJournal as 51 in the U.S. and 76 in the world back in January 2009. In January 2010, it had a rank of 79 in the U.S. and 80 in the world, and as of January 2011, LiveJournal had a rank of 128 in the U.S. and 75 in the world. Now, in November 2012, LiveJournal had a rank of #276 in the U.S. and #122 in the world. It is most popular in Russia, with a rank of #10 (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/livejournal.com).
- MySpace - From Alexa.com: 'About Myspace (myspace.com): Social Networking Site. Back in January 2009, Alexa considered MySpace to be the 3rd most popular site in the U.S., ranked 6th overall in the world. In January 2010, MySpace was ranked 5th in the U.S. and 13th in the world, and in January 2011, MySpace was ranked 29th in the U.S. and 50th in the world. In November 2012, Myspace dropped more in the rankings, now ranked #126 in the U.S. and #197 in the world. It is more popular in Pakistan, with a rank there of #114 (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/myspace.com).
- Ning - From Alexa.com: 'About Ning (ning.com): Ning is the social platform for the world's interests and passions online. Millions of people every day are coming together across Ning to explore and express their interests, discover new passions, and meet new people around shared pursuits.' The site is based in the US. I added this item to this Filamentality site fairly recently, so I don't have past (January 2009) Alexa ranking data, but Alexa ranked Ning in January 2010 at 187 in the U.S. and 301 in the world. As of January 2011, Ning is ranked 126 in the U.S. and 238 in the world. As of November 2012, Ning is ranked #302 in the U.S. and #461 in the world. Note: It is more popular in two other countries: Venezuela (#196) and Pakistan (#268) (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/ning.com).
- Twitter - From Alexa.com: 'About Twitter (twitter.com): Social networking and microblogging service utilising instant messaging, SMS or a web interface.' In January 2010, it was ranked 19 in the U.S., and 23 in the world. As of January 2011, Twitter had a rank of 9 in the U.S. and 10 in the world, and this improved a bit more, since as November 2012, Twitter has a rank of #8 in the U.S. and #8 in the world. Note: Twitter is most popular in Spain, with a rank of #5 (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/twitter.com).
- YouTube: Broadcast Yourself - YouTube is one of the fastest growing social networking sites in the world, built around the posting of videos and sharing video experiences & critiques with others. From Alexa.com: 'About YouTube (youtube.com): YouTube is a way to get your videos to the people who matter to you. Upload, tag and share your videos worldwide!' YouTube has been online since 2005. Alexa.com ranked YouTube as the 3rd most popular site in the world, and its rank in the U.S. was 7th back in January 2009, and like Facebook, more popular than most general-purpose, well-known search engines on the Web! In January 2010, it was ranked 4th in the U.S. and 4th in the world, and as of January 2011, YouTube was ranked 4th in the U.S. and 3rd in the world. In November 2012, YouTube improved slightly, now ranked #3 in the U.S. and #3 in the world--again, like Facebook, YouTube has great staying power! Note: It is ranked #2 in both Algeria and Saudi Arabia (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/youtube.com).
Notable Personal Information Search Engines
- BeenVerified - From Alexa.com: Advertised a lot on TV lately, this is fairly new on this page. Alexa gave this a rank of 9,345 in the U.S. and a rank of 58,258 in the world back in January 2010. As of January 2011, BeenVerified was ranked 5,954 in the U.S. and 40,025 in the world. As of January 2013, BeenVerified jumped up in the rankings, now ranked #1,947 in the U.S. and #12,946 in the world. (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/beenverified.com).
- Pipl: The Most Comprehensive People Search on the Web - I added this item in mid-2009 to this Filamentality site, so I don't have past (January 2009) Alexa ranking data, but Alexa, in December 2009, listed Pipl at the rank of 2,736 in the world and a rank of 1,358 in the U.S.--I expected its popularity to grow, and it did. As of January 2011, Pipl was ranked 1,051 in the U.S. and 1,651 in the world, but in January 2013, Pipl lost some ground and it is now ranked #1,830 in the U.S. and #4,284 in the world. One country ranks it higher, with Nigeria ranking it at #1,144 (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/pipl.com).
- Spokeo - Spokeo is a people search engine that aggregates white-pages listings and public records, which like BeenVerified, has gotten some significant TV ad time lately. Fairly new on this page, Alexa gave this a rank of 885 in the U.S. and a rank of 2,245 in the world back in January 2012. As of January 2013, spokeo jumped up in the rankings, now ranked #438 in the U.S. and #1,963 in the world. (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/spokeo.com).
- The Official WhitePages: Find People - From Alexa.com: 'About WhitePages.com (whitepages.com): WhitePages.com allows you to find people, business listings, phone numbers, addresses, area codes, ZIP codes and postal codes. WhitePages.com is located in the U.S.' It does seem to be fairly quick for locating personal information, such as spouses, addresses, phone numbers, and neighbors' info and it links you to US Search for more, while recently collaborating with Microsoft's Bing for mapping. Alexa ranked WhitePages back in January 2009 at 157 in the U.S. and 674 in the world. Back in January 2010, it had the rank of 146 in the U.S. and 597 in the world, and in January 2011, it had a rank of 147 in the U.S. and 700 in the world. In January 2013, it had a rank of #152 in the U.S. and #783 in the world (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/whitepages.com).
- US Search: Be Informed - What I found interesting about this site is that the basic free search can provide you with the age of the person being searched. It was eerily correct for the people I tried it with. And a few people I know who have never used the Internet for anything, and never will, were disturbed that their ages were available - sorry!. From Alexa.com: Alexa ranked U.S. Search as the 3,347 rank in the world back in January 2009. However, its popularity in the U.S. was better with a U.S. rank in Alexa of 859 back in January 2009. Back in January 2010, it had the rank of 1,643 in the U.S. and 6,468 in the world, and as of January 2011, US Search had a rank of 2,110 in the U.S. and 9,018 in the world. In January 2013, US Search dropped a bit, now with a rank of #2,344 in the U.S. and #12,499 in the world (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/ussearch.com).
- Zabasearch - Zabasearch got a lot of publicity a few years ago, much of it negative, and since then, they have changed the look and feel of their site dramatically.' This fairly well-known and powerful people search engine can return personal information going back as far as 10 years. They claim that all of the material that they provide is available to the public (which seems to be true,) but they make it much easier for us by putting it all together for us. From Alexa.com: Alexa ranked this site as 1,939 in the U.S. back in January 2009, but the world rank at that time was a rank of 5,858. In January 2010, it had the rank of 2,997 in the U.S. and 12,345 in the world, and in January 2011, Zabasearch was ranked 3,839 in the U.S. and 18,529 in the world. As of January 2013, Zabasearch dropped in the rankings, now ranked #4,277 in the U.S. and #23,963 in the world (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/zabasearch.com).
- ZoomInfo - From Alexa.com: 'About ZoomInfo (zoominfo.com): A business information search engine, providing company search, people search and job search. It constructs profiles on people and companies, drawn from the Web, or created by individuals and companies for themselves.' What they did do on me and a few of my colleagues, for instance, is automatically create focused summaries of us using a wide variety of online sources, and it can do the same for a company as it does for an individual. I found it very interesting, although not totally correct. In case this still doesn't interest you, know that it powers people search for Amazon's A9.com and Business Week. You can register and create a Web summary if you would like, if one does not exist or cannot be found. Interestingly, Alexa's was more popular in the U.S. with a rank of 882 from Alexa back in January 2009, but its world rank was only 3,134 back. In January 2010, it had a rank of 987 in the U.S. and 2,055 in the world. As of January 2011, ZoomInfo had a rank of 2,483 in the U.S. and 5,890 in the world. In January 2013, ZoomInfo's rankings improved; it now has a rank of #1,705 in the U.S. and #3,891 in the world (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/zoominfo.com).
Online Identity/Privacy Information Resources
- Center for Democracy and Technology's (CDT's) Guide to Online Privacy - 'While privacy faces threats from both private and government intrusions, the existing motley patchwork of privacy laws and practices fails to provide comprehensive protection. Instead, it causes confusion that fuels a sense of distrust and skepticism, limiting realization of the Internet's potential. A unique combination of tools--legal, technical, and self-regulatory--is being designed to address the privacy concerns of Internet users. Top-priority objectives include setting limits on government access to personal information, ensuring that new information and communication technologies are designed in ways that protect rather than diminish privacy, and developing appropriate federal legislation to set baseline standards for consumer privacy. This guide is intended to educate Internet users about online privacy, and offer practical suggestions and policy recommendations.'
- Consumers Union: Nonprofit Publisher of Consumer Reports - 'Consumers Union (CU) is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization, whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers. CU publishes Consumer Reports and ConsumerReports.org in addition to two newsletters, Consumer Reports on Health and Consumer Reports Money Adviser.' For those concerned about ID theft, see their Money tab, linking you to their Defend Your Dollars website, 'where we support reforms to the financial marketplace to curb bad practices by banks and lenders.' Lots of great information on money topics and tips for regaining control over our sensitive financial information.
- Fighting Back Against Identity Theft - This Federal Trade Commission website is a 'one-stop national resource to learn about the crime of identity theft. It provides detailed information to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft.' Sections for consumers, businesses, law enforcement personnel, and members of the media are provided, as are state and national data reports, not to mention that all website info is also available in Spanish.
- Identity Theft Resource Center: Working to Resolve Identity Theft - 'Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) is a nonprofit, nationally respected organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of identity theft. The ITRC provides victim and consumer support as well as public education. The ITRC also advises governmental agencies, legislators, law enforcement, and businesses about the evolving and growing problem of identity theft.' This site provides info on data breaches, victim and consumer resources, and scam alerts, and more--it even provides pages in Spanish and Chinese.
- Internet Fraud: How to Avoid Internet Investment Scams - 'Established by Congress in 1934, the SEC identifies as its primary mission protecting investors, and overseeing and regulating the securities markets in the United States. The SEC also provides consumers tips on how to use the Internet to invest wisely and how to avoid cyberfraud.' Their site for registering complaints is http://www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml
- NetSafe: Using the Internet Safely - This resource was created by the Illinois Library Association (ILA), who have been the voice for Illinois libraries and the millions who depend on them, since 1896. It is a collection of links, or bookmarks, that 'are designed as a series that will help educate youth and parents to make safe and informed decisions online. Each bookmark is aimed at a specific audience including kids, teens, and parents.'
- Privacy Foundation - Affiliated with the University of Denver through the Privacy Center at the University of Denver, this foundation 'conducts research and educates the public about technologies that affect personal privacy when improperly implemented.' One of its main goals is to identify possible threats to individual privacy, and it publishes its findings on this site.
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Nonprofit, Consumer Information and Advocacy Organization - Among its goals are to 'raise consumers' awareness of how technology affects personal privacy, empower consumers to take action to control their own personal information by providing practical tips on privacy protection, and respond to specific privacy-related complaints from consumers, intercede on their behalf, and, when appropriate, refer them to the proper organizations for further assistance.' I found their Identity Theft, Financial Privacy, and Internet Privacy links, fact sheets, and stories to be very valuable.
- Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests tips for socializing safely online for tweens and teens, as well as an annotated list of other recommended organizations to learn more about staying safe online.
Website Author's Information Page
- Robert J. Lackie's Directory Page - Robert J. Lackie is a Professor-Librarian at Rider University in New Jersey, where he co-leads the Franklin F. Moore Library’s course-integrated Research Instruction Program and serves as the Education Librarian. Since 1998, Prof. Lackie has provided hundreds of teacher-librarian seminars, presented frequently at conferences, and published within various professional books, periodicals, and online works. In addition, he co-edited a book for Neal-Schuman Publishers entitled Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators. He is also currently serving as an academic library representative and officer on the Executive Board of the LibraryLinkNJ statewide cooperative and as an adjunct professor in the Princeton Adult School and in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program (sponsored jointly by the U.S. Department of Education & Rider University). For his teaching, writing, leadership, and service to the profession, Professor Lackie has received several accolades, including the Association of College & Research Libraries New Jersey Chapter “2011 Distinguished Service Award,” the American Library Association “2006 Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship,” the “2004 Rider University Award for Distinguished Teaching,” and the New Jersey Library Association “2004 Librarian of the Year” award, among others, and he has been included in recent editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, and Who’s Who in the World. For a more detailed list of Professor Lackie’s publications, presentations, honors, or other information, please follow the above link.
Content by Professor-Librarian Robert J. Lackie, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last revised Mon Feb 4 7:19:04 US/Pacific 2013