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Jack Yan: the Persuader blog
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22.10.06

How private are we? 

I happened on to Zoominfo today, a site that gathers about people through . It was amazing what it had found on me, most of it accurate, based on its crawling technology. It had figured out where I went to uni, the companies I had founded, and only made one notable error (it believed I worked for Nissan, when I only started a post on Nissan on a email group).
   The site allows you to verify your and add more information.
   About the only worrying thing is: how much of our identities are out there? I updated my info on Zoominfo, as it knew most of it already, but it got me thinking. Others may well wish to update their info, too, either out of fear (I had better do this before someone else messes with it) or resignation (it knows 90 per cent of it, so what’s the harm in giving out the remainder—it’s not as though it can’t be found elsewhere).
   Zoominfo claims it is a and business tool, and generally I only found business summaries there. As far as I can tell, it is all legit. And though I fell into the second group of people, feeding in information because I was resigned to the fact that what I told it was all public anyway, I still have some worries about it falling into the wrong hands—not specifically from this site, but from any site.
   Remember, once upon a time a lot of us who were early internet fed our email addresses into online “Yellow Pages”, only to find we became the first victims of the spammers.
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Comments:
I wonder where it gets the info from too - if I google my name, I am 9 of the 10 results on the first page, but Zoominfo doesn't know me ... not that I'm complaining yet!

Again - if it is crawling the web to find things, does it limit itself to self-authored information, or any random comment(s) about you? If you "claim yourself" on Zoominfo, does it then stop crawling? And when you claim it, how do they KNOW you are who you say you are?  
It’s quite weird, though admittedly fascinating. I searched for Johnnie Moore out of interest and he was quite far down the Zoominfo index—yet Johnnie is very visible on the web. I claimed myself, but they ask for a credit card number for verifying your identity! (I could have ruined it for the other Jack Yans, including that guy who edits the Chinese edition of the Harvard Business Review, who is not me.)
   It’s not limited to self-authored information. My ones were mainly articles written about me, but it seemed to have been able to ignore a lot of the smaller quips and forum entries. There must be some program preventing it from picking up just anything, and focus on the “proper” articles.  
Hmmmm - I thought that might be the case - that it was possible to "claim" someone else as yourself (as long as you were quick, I guess).

Asking for credit card details seems a bit like a "roach motel" to use
Cote's expression.
but if they are going to be trusted then the need some evidence around who you are - where's Kim Cameron when you need him?  
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Note

Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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