Identifight Tells You What Sites Your Email Address Is Publicly Linked To

Matthew wrote in to complain about a new website called Spokeo, which sounds like a stalker’s dream: it sucks up all the entries in your address book, then returns a Big Brothery smorgasbord of all the publicly accessible accounts and services linked to each email address, along with updates any time something happens. It might surprise you to see just how easy it is for someone to assemble a picture of your Internet footprint with only an email address.
 
Don’t like the sound of that? Luckily for you, someone has already been inspired to follow Spokeo’s model and create a tool—Identifight—that lets you track your own email address to see what shows up, so you can patch up privacy leaks.

It’s amazing, really, that someone didn’t think to aggregate “public personal” data like this before. Flock sort of does it, but it’s an entire web browser, and it only uses your own accounts’ buddy lists in a very unsneaky way.
 
If you’re like Matthew and want zero visibility on your accounts, you’re going to have to do some low-tech account manipulation, like using custom addresses for each service so that no two accounts share the same address.
 
Identifight.org
 
RELATED
“Spokeo, the Big Brother of social networking” [Pandia]
“Spokeo” [Ask.com]
Spokeo.com
Flock.com

Comments

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  1. ZekeDMS says:

    But what if I want an address tied to everything possible to get people to pay for my meager services, or at least click ads on my unimpressive websites?

    I clearly need the reverse of this tool to find out where I’m NOT listed!

  2. sleze69 says:

    Looks like The Consumerist is too popular for IdentiFight. It must be overwhelmed because it is DOG slow right now.

  3. levenhopper says:

    @sleze69: Not working for me either.
    Damn, I was excited to see this…

  4. Asvetic says:

    Got into Spokeo no problem, Identifight however is a complete mess.

  5. Bladefist says:

    I copyright ‘the consumerist effect’

  6. Chris Walters says:

    My apologies to the Identifight owner. It’s a cool service and I didn’t mean to break it.

  7. ottawa_guy says:

    hahahahahah yeah not going anywhere for sure. It would be nice to see where your e-mail address is linked to…..i’ll try it in about 2 weeks lol

  8. faust1200 says:

    Spokeo makes you enter YOUR email address and password…?? And why would I do that??

  9. humphrmi says:

    @Bladefist-안녕: Gotta come up with a flashier name for it. Slashdotted is already taken.

  10. itsallme says:

    @faust1200: Because they have a cute fuzzy mascot.

  11. bluewyvern says:

    I already do this for another reason — I use SpamMotel ([www.spammotel.com]) to generate disposable e-mail addresses for every service I sign up with. I suspend any addresses that start getting spammed, and I guess it would have the added benefit of thwarting this kind of tracking.

    Gosh.

  12. Chris Walters says:

    @itsallme: …whose silhouette is a circular saw blade.

  13. RumorsDaily says:

    Consumed

  14. junkmail says:

    It seems all the best sites choose all the worst hosting companies. :(

  15. itsallme says:

    @Chris Walters: I guess he’s actually not that fuzzy, apparently he is a spiky hedgehog. The devil like image of him on their ‘about’ page makes more sense. They should have used that on their main page.

    [blog.spokeo.com]

  16. topgun says:

    @itsallme: I think it’s a hedgehog, which means it will turn around and stick you.

  17. dbson says:

    Good job guys, the site is down…

  18. yetiwisdom says:

    Use spamgourmet.com or similar for disposable addresses – can’t track ya if ya use a different email at each site…

  19. hubris says:

    @yetiwisdom: I just made a slush gmail account to use when I want to sign up for crappy sites.

  20. Asvetic says:

    I don’t think Spokeo does a very good job of finding social connections. I tried searching my common email address and it only came up with a small percentage of the many social accounts it’s linked to.

  21. Alexander says:

    I think the best strategy is to have a spam email address for signing up for websites. I only give my personal address to people I know, everything else gets another account that does not use my name.

  22. mgy says:

    Maybe we can just post this site on Consumerist every few days to insure that it’s never accessible by anyone. That’s a lot easier than actually going to each of the sites I visit and trying to change any information.

  23. mgy says:

    @alexander: Or, even easier – use gmail.

    Just about when I thought I got everything out of Gmail, I discovered my top favorite feature. We have published over 30 tools in Gmail RoundUp 1 and almost 80 tools and tips in Gmail RoundUp 2 but never mentioned anything similar to this one. Tribute for this one goes to my ‘I am not into computers’ type girlfriend.

    Let’s say that your email address is ‘GeorgeBush@gmail.com’, basically everything sent to any of the following email addresses will be forwarded to your primary email.

    * GeorgeBush@gmail.com
    * G.eorgeBush@gmail.com
    * Ge.orgeBush@gmail.com

    …
    …
    * GeorgeBus.h@gmail.com

    * GeorgeBush@googlemail.com
    * G.eorgeBush@googlemail.com
    * Ge.orgeBush@googlemail.com

    …
    …
    * GeorgeBus.h@googlemail.com

    And that’s not all, you can place as many dots as you want, it can be even something like ‘G.e.o.r.g.e.B.u.s.h@gmail.com’ and you’ll still get it on ‘GeorgeBush@gmail.com’

    Additionally, I just also found out that you can embed random text to your email ID using ‘+’ sign. That is to say ‘GeorgeBush+anythingyouwant@gmail.com’ can be used as your email address, as well.

    Ok I got it. Now what ?

    1. One email for every purpose

    Instead of using different email addresses for various purposes (work, school, friends, etc.) you can use different variations of your Gmail and filter incoming mails by ‘sent to’ address. For instance, all incoming mail sent to ‘Name.Surname@gmail.com’ can be put to folder ‘work’, messages sent to ‘NameSurname@gmail.com’ can be put to ‘friends’, ‘N.ameSurname@gmail.com’ can be used for newsletters, and so on.

    2. Track/Block spammers

    When signing up for some website, say thatwebsite.com, you can add thatwebsite to your Gmail user ID (eg. GeorgeBush+thatwebsite@gmail.com). This way you can block your subscription whenever you want and even identify those websites that distribute your email address to spammers.

    [www.makeuseof.com]

  24. sleze69 says:

    @RumorsDaily: I second RumorsDaily’s word for the Consumerist killing a website.

    CONSUMED

  25. flidget says:

    For the record, I first heard about Spokeo when I got an email from them: Sort of a “heads up, someone used us to search for you, and these are the accounts we came up with.”

    The email also advised me to change the email address or privacy settings I didn’t want turning up in my listings – the only problem is that it was two weeks ago, and having just checked Spokeo again, it doesn’t appear to remove old listings, at least not within that timeframe. All the accounts I’ve changed the addresses on are still showing up.

  26. blitzcat says:

    Give my gmail password to some third party site? No thanks.

    Got privacy problems much?

  27. CyberSkull says:

    There already is another feed aggregator site for social networks: FriendFeed.

  28. Alexander says:

    @mgy: Wow, that sounds neat. I have been meaning to give gmail a try, if I could only get my name.surname@gmail.com I’d be set…thanks for the tip!

  29. pandroid says:

    As a hedgehog owner, I object to the negative portrayal of hedgehogs by Spokeo! :D

    Plus that site just creeps me out.

  30. I’m not suprised at how much information people can find with my e-mail address. I use the world’s most obvious e-mail address so that people can find me. But that’s a personal choice: I decided back in 1993 that I wasn’t going to be one of those people who try to hide from the Internet. The “secret profile” on a social network still strikes me as kind of sad.

    I let Spokeo search my e-mail address book (exported from Mozilla as a CSV file), and it appears that most active person in my social network is… me. And most of that was my Twitter feed and my Amazon wishlist.

    For my friends, it mostly found wishlists and Flickr feeds. Come on, if I wanted to look at baby pictures, I’d talk to these people in person more often. Find me some good dirt, Spokeo!

  31. wring says:

    @mgy: i set up a gmail account for my kid and she has a relatively popular name. i get emails from people of the same name. this is a sucky gmail glitch.

  32. wring says:

    also, this is awesome. thanks for an interesting monday, spokeo!

  33. HawkWolf says:

    @michael bauser: so what would you do if you have a hobby that is considered ‘unpleasant’ by many people?

    For instance, I write porn, and am eventually going to take a stab at fetish photography.

    However, both of those things are stuff that HR departments probably would use to exclude me from the pool of hundreds/thousands of applicants in order to whittle it down to an interviewable number of people.

    Is it okay in that case to keep a hidden identity? I’m really curious what other opinions are, because that’s why *I* try to separate myself.

  34. wilmawonker says:

    @sleze69: I’m picturing the death of the Teen Girl Squad:
    ‘I like to buy all the newest shirts for twice the price’ – CONSUMED!
    ‘I’m gonna get every color swatch watch so quarterback will date me’ CON-TSUNAMIED!!!!!!
    Sooooo good!

  35. Nytmare says:

    @alexander: Looks like we are getting to the point where sites are convincing the “people you know” to give up their entire address books.

  36. Ke says:

    Spokeo works a lot better than identifight but I still am not that impressed. I have signed up for a lot of social networking sites (to the extent that I sometimes forget that I have a username on Digg or something if I have not used it in a while) but Spokeo only came with a select few. I will keep checking back on both sites to fully see where my email address lies on the web but so far, the sites have not been cooperating as I had hoped.

  37. Mr. Gunn says:

    I use plaxo to aggregate my own site memberships, but you actually have to give it log-on info, it doesn’t do it just on email.

    Bonus: It uses OpenID, so you don’t have to make a separate login there.

  38. TechnoDestructo says:

    @faust1200:
    “Your email and password are required to retrieve your email contacts,
    and will not be used again to access your email account. Concerned
    about your privacy? So are we! Read more.”

    Jesus christ, I don’t trust ANYONE enough to use the same combination of username and password on any two IMPORTANT accounts, or anything where the login information on one site would give enough information to indirectly reveal another, why would I just HAND these bozos login information for an account I actually use (and which will give them access to password retrieval emails from other sites)? And the way I read that, it has to be one that I actually use.

    Their concept seems to require more trust than anyone should be willing to give.

  39. tinder says:

    @TechnoDestructo:
    amen. they obviously don’t care anything about users’ privacy. however, if you follow the link under there you can set it up without importing your contacts. seems to be the proper way to do this is to present the latter link and give the option to import — not the other way around. weasels.

  40. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    @RumorsDaily: oooh, nice one

  41. CornwallBlank says:

    I would temporarily suggest caution with identifight: domain registration looks dubious to me. That doesn’t mean anything’s going on, only that it would probably be wise to wait a little bit while folks get a good look at it and see who’s behind it.

  42. Alexander says:

    @nytmare: Yes, and that sucks! I have been lucky so far. My main email gets absolutely no spam whatsoever. I have been very vigilant…but I know that it only takes it getting into one mailing list for me to be screwed.

  43. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    @RumorsDaily: Consumed…sounds good. Or Consumerated…kinda along the lines of terminated.

  44. Ke says:

    @TechnoDestructo: What I did was use an email that I made but never used, so they could not retrieve an address book. I just wanted to check up on myself, not others. After you log-in, you can search any of your other emails.

  45. lowbrown says:

    go to http://www.bugmenot.com

    look up the site that requires a registration, it gives you an email address. much easier than creating a ton of them yourself.

    and any site thats asking for your email and password is going to hack your address book. there’s no other reason to ask for it. they don’t need your email password to find out if your email is linked to another site.

  46. Zephyr7 says:

    spookyo

  47. LordieLordie says:

    I think this is a pawnage site.. you put in your email and YOU ARE NOW LINKED!
    I put in my “garbage” email that I use for “registrations”… and it should get many hits.. it comes back as nothing.. This looks like a scam.. and with the reputation of Consumerist behind it, it is working! THANKS CONSUMERIST!

  48. cockeyed says:

    I put in my email and came up with nothing… I know that this (my personal email) is linked to several websites that were pictured above… Amazon, etc.
    So, yeah… I was a bit apprehensive putting my email into it, but I did it anyway, and I agree with LordieLordie… It seems like a way of collecting emails. DAMMIT.

  49. cockeyed says:

    I’ll correct myself now that i realize the picture is of Spokeo, or whatever. Ironically, I get absolutely no (or a minimum of) spam at all my fake email accounts. I have one for messageboards, one for spam/myspace, and several others I use at random places where I don’t want them to know who I am.
    Anyway, in my real email, I get at least 100 spam mails a day. Fortunately I use gmail, so I never see any of these emails. Only a few have slipped by.

  50. cockeyed says:

    @Michael Bauser: I don;t think a person should expect privacy on the internet, but sometimes they just don’t want employers finding out certain things about them. Maybe it’s something tame, like an internet message board they post on, or maybe it’s something more extreme, like writing porn.
    There isn’t any privacy, and I’ll be the first to admit that, but there are even places where you don’t want the people who post there to bother you in person.
    Anyway, I don’t think it’s pathetic for a person to not want people in professional settings to know certain things about them. Having a secret profile to spy on people, that’s completely different.

  51. aikoto says:

    @mgy: I just tried that trick with Hotmail and it doesn’t work. If Gmail really does work that way, I will use it for all account signups from now on. That’s freaking brilliant!