Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

Why Do Search Engines Want Your Name?

Part of me would like to get hysterical over the news that a new search engine wants to index the names of every single person on the planet. The idea that anyone can locate and learn about me at the push of a button freaks me out.

Wait a minute. If you’re reading this, you just did.

What is the reasoning for making every person on the planet with a name available for search on the Internet? Who cares?

With 7 million dollars in startup cash, it would appear there are a lot of people with money to blow on something this illogical. Search engine revs up to look for billions of names describes how Spock.com wants to “track down the names of the world’s six billion people”.

If you visit their site, which is still in BETA, it asks if you’re over 13. What the heck for? The article says,

The founders of Spock.com, which has been under development since 2006 in Redwood City, California, hope the website will eventually provide a search result for everyone in the world.

So. If your children are in the search engine, only those over 13 can find them?

That can’t be right.

It doesn’t say anything about minors, or laws in all the countries, or parental rights over information. It says, “everyone in the world”. Is that your baby they want? What about people who are employed as secret agents? In Witness Protection programs? In jail? Are monks? Who are terrorists? What happens when someone dies?

This can’t be right.

It says “everyone in the world.

Of course, the information can be removed on your request. I laughed out loud when the article said the search engine could filter out information that would possibly injure the web site’s credibility.

The web site’s credibility.

The article continues …

To index individuals, Spock.com scours through social networking websites such as MySpace, Friendster and Bebo.

But it also allows web surfers to add information about individuals to help Spock.com compile full profiles.

Has someone lost their mind? Sure, for those who WANT to be found, in a community they CHOSE to belong to, they put up their own web site they could control. When did this automatically mean they wanted to be added to search engines?

This is what drives me bananas. Somewhere along the line we seem to have made an unspoken agreement that we want our privacy or basic right of choices for ourselves thrown out the window and it’s perfectly fine for any Internet web site to do whatever they want because they found us.

Bits and pieces of us are leaking all over the Internet. Identities are stolen, and the problem is getting worse. Enormous numbers of people post naked pictures of themselves. I mean, have you LOOKED lately at what’s out there? (Oh stop!) And it’s not just adult oriented sites. Try Flicker and YouTube.

Hey, I’d even do it if my relatives were all blind, I had no friends who would laugh at me, I never planned to run for office and decided to never have any kids. Oh yeah, for those who want to work for the Government or teach in schools, a criminal background check and quick search for you on the Internet will certainly kill your chances if you strut your stuff in all your glory (yes, I know you’re absolutely gorgeous) or, your profile has never been tampered with and you’re perfect.

The thing is, you gave permission (we hope) to show it off.

Did you know there are no laws in the US that say third party sites can’t use the information you put up about yourself? So, have at it.

Spock.com claims to have tons of money for this venture and all I can think of are the millions of people who they plan on indexing who are starving, homeless, jobless, living in refugee camps, abused…there’s so much more to those names and why, oh why, does this not matter?

Like I said, so much of me wants to get wound up and tight fisted-like furious at the people who somehow think it’s okay to put the names of every human being in a search engine. Not only will it index names, but you can add pictures and create profiles.

As if nobody else thought of doing that yet on the Internet. This isn’t even an original idea. There are already names search engines on the Internet. This one, however, claims to look under every rock to find “everyone in the world”.

Where is the sense of all this?

I own several web sites, a forums and a blog. I’ve been online since 1995, blabbing away. My high school classmates have no idea. My best friend emails me all the time, asking how I am, and I keep telling her that if she misses me or worries, I’M ON THE INTERNET. My neighbors could care less who I am or what I do online. My parents, who are both very good with computers, are too busy to care what I’m doing online. They also believe in not interfering.

In other words, I’ve been here for awhile and really, nobody gives a damn.

I wish the money tossed to these search engines was going to FEED, PROTECT and CARE for people, not search for their names.


  1. Gloria's Gravatar Gloria
    August 9, 2007    

    I can’t agree more! I wish I had an extra $7 billion dollars to help care for all those that suffer in this world!

  2. August 12, 2007    

    Kim, I have to agree with you there. Also:

    (1) I also have to wonder who would fund this thing:

    Me: Like, I need 7 million dollars to build a search engine where I’ll, like, index everyone on the planet!
    VC: Riiiight …

    (2) Who with a straight face can declare that s/he actually believes s/he has a prayer of finding that many people, let alone indexing their names?

    (3) #2 notwithstanding, the point about children is too awfully true. The possibility that damage will be done long before the first billion are indexed is probably probable.

    (4) The thing with the profiles — I have to think that’s a lawsuit in the making.

    Geez. Given #1, are we sure this new search engine isn’t just an attempt at buzz? If not, I have to wonder who exactly would want that information. ;)

  3. August 12, 2007    

    I’ve found very little support for our views in the coverage by bloggers from the marketing realm. The feelings seem to be that this “new” search engine is exciting.

    Making claims to index everybody on the planet was the first sign that they couldn’t be taken seriously. It was hype or B.S.

    It shows a complete lack of respect and regard for people and that is why I don’t support this idea.

    How useful is it? My school classmates, old co-workers, people who once knew me, can’t find me because my last name has changed several times. I’ve searched for people in our present search engines and because people have the same names, if you’ve lost touch, you don’t know if the person you found is the one you’re looking for.

    Spock.com is being touted as the cool way to find info on famous people or by category searches.

    The info it has on me is taken from Linkedin. I was never asked my permission. Did Linkedin’s terms and conditions warn us our information was going to put on other websites? How many of us thought we had to be aware of this when we joined?

    Most people don’t yet understand that phone books are used by search engines and directories, making them publically accessible to the world, not just their local area.

    I’ve mentioned Spock.com to some family and friends who don’t live and breathe the Internet, and they all have been confused and puzzled, esp. those with children.

    When you get away from marketers and those who make their living on the Internet, opinions about the Internet are very different.

    I doubt the creators of people search engines never talk to every day people. They use them for their own gain, instead.

  4. August 13, 2007    

    I agree, Kim. I can’t see the value, beyond the buzz that the announcement of a “search engine that will index everyone on the planet”. Then there’s the adding of information by who knows who, which gives us a Wikipedia-like fight to keep information correct. Who wants to spend their days trying to monitor and/or correct information on various sites?

  5. August 13, 2007    

    More privacy issues…for those who try to sign up. It asks for login/pw information to your email and Linkedin accounts.

  6. August 14, 2007    

    Good stuff, Kim.

  7. August 14, 2007    

    Thanks Diane. They’re definitely having trouble there. While their BETA may have worked well, once released, they were met with all sorts of performance issues. Such is life with new apps :)

1 Trackback

  1. University Update - YouTube - Why Do Search Engines Want Your Name? on August 7, 2007 at 10:50 am
  2. Search Engine Land: News About Search Engines & Search Marketing on August 7, 2007 at 1:04 pm

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