Take control of your online identity, with Wink
The new version of Wink lets you expunge results about you that you don't like.
People search engine Wink, the less bubbly but more filling competitor to Spock, is adding an interesting antilibel feature. Now, if you search for yourself on Wink and find a result you don't like, you can ask Wink to ignore it, and when other people search for you they won't see that result either.
It's a very useful feature--providing people are searching for you on Wink. While you can get that embarrassing party photo removed from the Wink results, it will still show up on Google. Wink CEO Michael Tanne makes two points regarding this. First, he says, about one third of the 3-billion-plus people searches done each month are now done on people search engines, with the other two-thirds split between general search engines and social networks. Wink is not a major force in people search yet, compared to online phone books, but it is making headway. Second, Wink results show up, to varying degrees, on general-purpose search engines. Tanne told me Wink results show up fairly reliably on Yahoo and that his team is working hard on Google optimization. So the upshot is, if you search for yourself on Wink and find a result or two you don't like, it's a good idea to "claim" your identity on the site and ask it to exclude those results. It can't hurt, and over time, it might help.
Wink also has some other new and interesting features. The most out there is a message board for people who haven't yet used the service. It works like this: Say you find an old friend via Wink, in a Web story or something, and you want to contact them. You can post a message to their name, and it will lie there waiting for them. If and when the person logs into Wink and claims their identity, they'll see your message. Tanne agrees this is a "last-resort" method for contacting people, but it's a clever idea and if Wink integrates with other social nets through OpenSocial, it could become a useful way to leave little message bombs around the Web for people you haven't communicated with in a while.
Finally, Wink now has a feature that lets you "friend" people and follow all their activies in a feed much like the Facebook "wall" and Plaxo's Pulse. By the way, Both Wink and Plaxo offer a widget that will you can use to tell people what you're doing online. Wink's only shows where you have accounts, though: Plaxo reports actual activity, such as Twitter updates.
Wink is working on an OpenSocial implementation, which could be very powerful. Conceptually, using Wink as an aggregation point for your social network activities makes a lot of sense. I'm curious to see what the crew comes up with.
My takeaway: Wink is worth using as a people search engine. It's also worth taking the time to claim your profile and edit out all the stuff about you that you don't like.