jetsetgreen

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why Reunion.com Sucks (And Why You Should Care)

I Google myself, I’m sure you do too.

In fact, it’s good practice to Google yourself and find your electronic trail. Sometimes it’s funny to see what comes up in the engine results; other times it’s using your harmless curiosity to make sure there isn’t too much information about yourself online. After all, you never know the crazies who are out there trying to find out identifying data about you or your family.

Generally, I Google my married name and my maiden name separately. I end up with totally different results. Last week, when I Googled my name, I found a Reunion.com entry that listed my married and my maiden name together, along with family, and other contact information that I have never, in my entire life, provided to them. I was piiiiissed.

I try to practice safe Internet-ing: never too much, never say where, be vague, and especially don’t talk about the Picasso you just bought and how it’s hanging in your dining room next to a window that’s always open; you know, the basics. Reunion.com has crossed the line: they are crawling over the web to pick up random pieces of information about you and coalescing it into one profile; one highly Google-able profile that anyone can use to find you, even when you don’t want to be found. Sure, Reunion.com says that this information is in public records already, that all they’re doing is gathering the info into one place. They’re right; it’s all in the public records.

However, there are some big problems with this active trawling:

1. You don’t control public records

You can’t control how your city, county, or state release information about your addresses, or residences. Most likely, Reunion.com is spidering your local government’s records and saving it for matching to your general profile. Since you have no say, you depend on how difficult it is to access this information for a regular bad guy.

2. Easier to get your information

Sure, all of those little pieces of data exist, but they’re everywhere. A person interested in finding you, or finding out more about you, has to do some serious research. They might have to go to lots of sites or services to find your data, pay money, and then try to piece it together. Reunion.com has taken the hard work out of finding you.

3. Can your profile be removed from Reunion.com?

Yes. Yes it can, but you have to CALL them, on the PHONE, and verify at least three former addresses.

Uh, that’s creepy. I just love handing out the places where I’ve lived, where I still might be living, to some random guy on the phone. It’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s also almost impossible to remember the addresses of places you may have lived 15 years ago. I find this their most egregious error. I have to take my valuable time and beg them to remove me from their database? My information? What jackasses.

4. Has Reunion.com always done this?
No. This is new. They only started doing this a little over a month ago.


What could I possibly gain from this arrangement? Allowing people to find me in an effort to reunite?

Keep in mind, that if I wanted to be reunited with these people I would already be in contact with them. Or, failing that, I could actually signup for their service and put myself out there as wanting to be contacted. I’m not even on Facebook, on purpose, because I want to control who can see and get in touch with me.

My hunch is that if enough people call them, write them, email them, and demand to be removed, causing a huge strain on their resources, Reunion.com might be less likely to continue to pull in this kind of person, identifiable information. Go ahead, Google yourself for once (and not your ex-boyfriend) and find out what Reunion.com is displaying about you!


THANKS REUNION.COM!

Thanks for undermining my privacy AND SAFETY in the quest for your bottom line, you’re the best!



Update:
Apparently, they have a letter grade of 'D' at the Better Business Bureau. I'm far from the only one upset with Reunion.com.

27 comments:

i i eee said...

WTF? You have to tell them your last three addresses? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. What sons of b*tches!

*MARY* said...

I googled myself but none of the results are actually me, well at least not the first two pages, just people with the same name. I'm kind of disappointed

Mrs. Dub said...

This sucks.

sarah k. said...

Ewww! They have all my freaking relatives on there! EWWWWW!

ClistyB said...

yep they suck. Pricey to join AND they put some nerd on as your friend who tells you about the site's services

fijiangirl said...

That's a little scary! I've only googled myself once. Nothing too exciting there.

Fig said...

I am angry on your behalf. As for myself, Reunion.com has shown no interest in me thus far. Can I just call and complain about everyone else's privacy being disregarded?

I wish that you would provide transcripts of your conversations with the jackasses.

Azúcar said...

I was respectful, after all, the guy on the phone didn't make the policy.

Keep checking yourselves, I bet you'll find more information about your life on their site over the next couple months.

Lacy said...

oh my gosh so i know you don't know me but i'm a fan of the mommy blogs! so i went to the site and there were two profiles of me. One had pictures! I called and had them removed! they didn't ask for my addresses though.

Matt said...

I came over here from Eric D. Snider's site. And I have to say you've got a pretty competent little blog here. I think I'll read it more in the future.

amelia said...

Wow - that's kind of extreme measures to keep updated information on people. How many people really use reunion.com?

Kalli Ko said...

dude, this wigs me out major. not only does it list the last 3 places I've lived it lists who my family is, their names and the last 3 places THEY'VE LIVED.

what.the.hell

i'm calling, complaining, yelling and whatever else I have to do to get my name removed.

b. said...

competent?

THAT'S ALL???

(going to google myself.)

b. said...

Hmmm....nothing on me. But I did find my mother's obit. I thought that was loooong gone!

Sue said...

I never find myself on google, other than my linked in profile. I AM INVISIBLE.

I went to reunion.com and looked myself up - I don't exist there either. Whew.

acte gratuit said...

Man, I was all stoked they didn't have me with my maiden name. Then I found myself listed with my married name! I'm SO ANNOYED! Not only that, my sister's name and my mom's name. Actually, I'm more than annoyed. I'm all those other bad words I'm not allowed to say!!!

If it weren't midnight in the US right now, I'd be on the phone (Skype, rather) giving them a piece of my mind.

SOME OF US HAVE STALKERS, YOU KNOW REUNION.COM!!!
(jerks)

Thanks for the heads up.

On a similar note, have you tried reverse look-up? You can type your phone number into google, and it'll come up with your address. Just awesome...

Shawn said...

I only find male singers when I google myself... Black male singers, no less...

And I acually TRIED to find someone that I used to sing with in a group from Denver---so I used reunion.com, but I can't afford the money to join, so I stopped using them.

They send me e-mails, and I hit "delete!"

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Reminds me of how you can type in an address or is it a phone number and all your personal info pops up on Google. I've been on Google maps and you can virtually walk up and down my street and neighborhood.

They're just making it easy for the serial killers--I swear.

Rich Wood said...

You know, it has got to be your maiden name, because I google LaQuina all the time and she is the the top hit, and then a major part of the ensuing hits on the first page. Try it out.

Natalie said...

if i google my maiden name (natalie lovin) i get porn, so i stopped doing it. but this is scary!

Stephen said...

I'll bet they don't want to remove information -- having it is their business model.

The real thing that is happening, though, is that as more and more people come on line, more and more confusion is created.

On the other hand, I and a couple other Steve/Stephen Marshes are now friends on facebook or otherwise.

But it makes for a different profile when people google us.

meg said...

LOL about the comment about googling ex-boyfriends. I naively thought only I did that. obviously I'm NOT the only one...

KT said...

That is scary. Try typing your home phone number is google. Sometimes it will bring up your name and a MAP TO YOUR HOUSE. That makes me feel safer at night for sure.

Laura said...

Wow! When I google my name the first three pages are for a rather famous porn star that happens to have my exact same name (spelling and all). Now it looks like I'll have to call Reunion and tell them that, no, I haven't lived in a seedy Hollywood hotel for the past few years.

BTW...thanks for the reading suggestions! I love reading your blog so I am thrilled to read the books you've recommended!

Morgan said...

Have you been kidnapped by someone who found you through reunion.com?? I need me some Jet Set.

cmr said...

I was just contacted by a cousin who I have NO interest being in contact with. It really bugged me out that he found TWO email addresses for me, so I started digging around and ran into reunion.com (I don't think that's where he got the info. though) I searched reunion.com quite a bit before even beginning to figure out how to remove myself from their database. I called them and all they asked me was my name, dob, and zip code. Do I trust them? NO! But I will keep going back and making sure my name doesn't pop up.

Big Cray said...

I found this blog entry because I noticed that Reunion.com had an entry for me... and I found it somewhat odd since I had never signed up. What I found amusing is that it has a bunch of local people with the same last name as me listed as my family... but there's one slight problem: I'm not related to most of them!

I just hope that nobody I know happens to be searching for my greatness and ends up giving these chuckleheads money for my "contact information" that they can't possibly deliver.