People Search Engines Not Private About Revenue


privateADOTAS – I’m sure it’s making for great holiday season pageviews and cable news ratings, but I’m really sick of the media hoopla over Transportation Security Administration practices, particularly regarding the full-body scan. I side with Business Insider’s Henry Blodgett that getting a body scan is preferable to being blown to smithereens midflight. Then again, I’ve never complained about taking off my shoes or belt at airport security and I think fear over body scans stems from residual American Puritanism.

We’ve all got genitalia, people — in fact, I almost feel worse for the TSA employees who have to stare at those scans all day. But I normally feel for them because working for the TSA has to be one of the most thankless jobs in the world.

While suggesting the public furor seems more likely a call for profiling, one of my favorite columnists is hoping against hope that the TSA outrage is another wake-up call to Americans about their diminishing control over privacy. Alas, these wake-up calls would seem to be abundant lately — the American public is made up of deep sleepers.

Before all the TSA-hatin’ there was The Wall Street Journal privacy escapades involving Facebook and data merchant Rapleaf. While I considered WSJ mainly spreading paranoia (I acknowledge that it was another incident in which Facebook showed a lack of concern for its privacy policy when building out services), the defense of the near-hysterical coverage seemed to be that, even if it’s just crying wolf, the browsing public needs a wake-up call about how their public online data is being used.

I disagree — a better alarm is to show them the money. And a great porthole to the money in the online data industry is people search engines, an area that will be brining in $10.8 billion yearly according to recent research by Forrester.

A few weeks ago, PeekYou founder and CEO Michael Hussey gave Adotas insight into the company’s goal of creating social data profiles for all Internet users, and how PeekYou makes money off of data transactions.

And now people search engine MyLife, formed out of the merger of and Wink almost two years ago, announced it will earn $60 million in revenue this year and is expecting 40% growth in 2011. The company boasts 1.2 billion global records, including 205 million from the U.S.

In other words, MyLife is going to earn $60 million this year, partially by selling third-party marketing partners the aggregated public social data of you, your friends and your family.

I’m perfectly fine with that — kudos to MyLife. Third-party marketers, do your best to appeal to me. If you users want to throw a hissy fit about it and claim your privacy is under siege, perhaps you should look into social network suicide first?


  1. I don’t particularly care either way about the full body scans, but I’m not a hot woman being gawked at. So I’m not sure it’s a puritanism vestige more than privacy issues. Just food for thought.


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