Monday, February 22, 2010

Kevin takes the ultimate step to manage his online identity...

Two Fridays ago as I was ready to leave for President’s day weekend, somebody knocked on our door. It was a man named Kevin. Kevin is an engineer working at a card processing company and he was upset that we had not removed his profile from the site given multiple requests. Furthermore, he was complaining that there was no way for him to remove himself technically from the site. Kevin is a young tech-savvy guy and I thought that if he had trouble removing himself from the site, then so would most everyone else. So I decided to sit down with him and open my computer to go over our self-service removal process to understand once and for all what the issues are.

To set the stage for what action was actually taken during the meeting and to demonstrate what every member of Spoke has the ability to do, here is a quick step by step of what we did:

1. Searched for his name in the Spoke website
2. Found his Spoke Profile and clicked on it
3. Click on the words “this is me” on the left side under the photo
4. On the registration page, located the “suppress your profile” link on the right and clicked on it. (Kevin didn’t see this removal link so we will make some changes to make it more visible)
5. Completed the suppression process to confirm his identity and officially suppress his profile.

After completing this process, Kevin asked me several other questions about what information is accessible in Spoke because he just wasn’t clear on that subject. Past experiences with identity theft have given Kevin a keen eye for privacy concerns related to information management and he wanted to be sure that his information was safe and that someone could not cause him harm by using Spoke. I explained Spoke's Information Privacy Policy and Kevin left reassured that his information was safe and his profile would no longer be visible in Spoke.

Some people ask why they have to register for Spoke to have their profile suppressed. Actually, you don’t have to.  However, given the nature of our business, it’s conceivable that someone would attempt to set up false profiles or to attempt to take control of a specific profile for malicious purposes.  Since anyone can set up a free ISP email account, we require you to be able to verify your identity using a corporate email address.

We are more than happy to help remove profiles from Spoke. Our intentions are not to keep somebody who doesn’t want to be on Spoke, on Spoke no matter what. Our commitment is to remove you as fast as we can. The fastest way is through our self-removal process that Kevin and I went through. It provides instantaneous removal from the site and then a couple of days to several weeks to get a specific profile removed from Google.

Talking to the team last week about my discussion with Kevin, it’s clear we still faces issues regarding the removal process. Our commitment to you is that:

1) We will keep reemphasizing this self-service process on the site, on our FAQs or on the blog; this is our preferred way and if you don’t find the current self-service feature easy enough, just let us know and we will adjust accordingly

2) We will continue sending instructional emails within 48 business hours to people who want themselves removed; if people don’t receive their emails, it may be because these emails are either caught in a spam filter at the mail box level or at the ISP level. We are working diligently to make sure that we are not blacklisted and currently we are not on any lists.

3) Some people may want to reach us directly over the phone and have their profile removed this way. We are in the process of evaluating how we can do this given the nature of our small team while still providing service to our members. Several options are being researched and you should stay tuned to the blog for future developments on this topic. If you choose this course for suppressing your profile, please be patient as this manual process takes much longer than the self-service approach.

Philippe Cases
CEO, Spoke

P.S.- Don't forget about the "If only I had Spoke... " contest.  There are only a few days left to get your shot at winning $100 - CASH!


  1. I did not sign up for this service and was quite surprised to see google searches for my name return a Spoke profile. Please delete my membership as soon as possible.

  2. extremely frustrating!!!! I can not delete my account I created this weekend to try it. Also I found and old account with my name WHICH I NEVER CREATED. Everything looks like a hoax and very deceiving!
    Extremely poor navigation and FAQ does not correspond to reality. POOR POOR

  3. I will add that I see the CEO of my Company with a mispelled name...I doubt he would have created such profile!

  4. This all sounds well and good -- I've not yet seen any tangible proof, however, that information previously provided has been acted on. We now get credit card offers at our office (1500 miles away from the location lists) for an individual who has never worked for us--his "affiliation" with our company is entirely a creation of ... google his name with the company name, and there's not a single hit the world over except that which has invented.

  5. Eduardo, you can remove your profile on a self service basis but you can't cancel your account if you have registered as of yet. We are working on this missing feature as we speak, which should be ready before the end of April. We will let everybody know when this is ready. Again sorry about this, we should be more proactive about those issues in the future.

  6. christopher case-grilloApril 1, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    I want to remove my account. Can not find the "cancel my account" link despite following your FAQs. This is crap.

  7. Hi Chris,

    On the FAQ, we are offering to Paying member the ability to cancel their paying subscription. Cancelling a free account is not a feature that we offer right now. Our engineering team is working on it right now and the feature will be released before the end of April.

    Sorry for the inconvenience.


  8. Hello Philippe,

    I have run across your site when one of my competitors called me to ask why he was listed as an employee/owner of my OLD company name! I had no idea what was happening. So, I came here and looked and many other people are listed as owners of my old company (none of which ever were... and my name wasn't even listed). I've created an account with you folks in an attempt to get the data corrected... but your system won't let me Edit the Company information!

    This situation is very bad! RediCheck Enterprises, Inc ceased to exist as of Jan 2008 (I have no idea where your "verified" 6/2008 incorrect data came from!). And none of the people currently listed as employees for RediCheck Enterprises Inc were ever employed by RediCheck Enterprises.

    Your system is not allowing me to correct this highly inaccurate information.

    Please remove RediCheck Enterprises Inc from your system and any associated employment records.

  9. I have had the same bad experience as Eduardo. Someone hacked into my old inactive account and added employment updates that are not true! i somehow managed to reset the password change that until I found yet another another account that I NEVER created and had some other FALSE employment details. There is NO option to delete /disable my account either.I no longer work with any specific company, hence I do not have a corporate email id, how can I suppress all these accounts? Including the new one I had created???

  10. Philippe, just wanted to make sure - are you using your gmail account to send emails? I have exchanged a couple of emails regarding my issues, noticed it wasn't a Spoke id. Is that you?