facebook logoWhen is too much information just that?

Over at Mashable, Adam Ostrow wrote up a new Facebook application today called TrueScoop.  On the surface it seems like a fun, and surprisingly free, way to look up information about your friends, but it is also directed at potential employers being able to look into your history to see what type of person you are.

TrueScoop allows anyone who installs the application to enter a person’s name and it will search through “millions” of public records to show you about them.  Ever been pulled over for a speeding ticket?  Well, it’s on here (as Mr. Ostrow bravely proved by posting a screen capture of one of his own)  This means it will also show any other possible run ins you’ve had with the law whether they be misdemeanors or felonies, your entire arrest record is now avaialble for anyone on Facebook to view.

While this may be a great thing for a family looking to hire a baysitter, or an employer wanting to know about a potential employee, there are two serious problems we see with this application.  The first is the potential for you to get confused with someone else, or for you not be found at all.  True, it does show you the person’s date of birth and a potential location for where they reside, but when I looked up a friend (with their permission) who had moved away from our town eighteen years ago, it still showed him as possibly living here.  An employer could see that and wonder if the information put on an application was truly accurate.  Another friend (again with their permission) that I looked up seemingly doesn’t exist at all.  After 15 minutes of searching, not one record could be returned on her, which might prompt someone who has put too much faith into this system to think that she has given them bogus information.

The second, and far more scary, potential problem is that of stalking.  Perhaps someone is a bit too obsessed with you and they decide to look you up via this system.  They could potentially learn what city you live in or even more.  Imagine this in the case of someone who has escaped an abusive relationship and it gets even scarier.

True, these are all public records the information is being pulled from, but in the past there has always been a fee involved in searching them which is enough to dissuade the casual abuser.  This is the first time I can ever remember there being a truly free public record search, and due to the ability of anyone to do it on a whim, it could potentially turn itno a frightening tool for stalkers, child molestors and things we might even be able to dream of yet.  Use this application with care.

Categories: Facebook, News, Privacy   
 

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