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Let your fingers do the gossiping

Let your fingers do the gossiping

Blogs are so trendy that the controversial one-sweep Internet phone directory, ZabaSearch, is offering them for free. Think of this as a giant public phone book that you can scribble on. Find your first crush and make notes by that person's name--alongside their address and phone number. That's why I'm not so enthusiastic that ZabaSearch may have helped me find my 95-year-old grandmother's last surviving friend her age--a woman with the impossibly common surname of Johnson.

ZabaSearch blogs are legal, thanks to freedom of speech. The company merely trolls public records, after all. If you don't like a rumor that someone attaches to your name and address, the burden of proof's on you. Hence ZabaSearch's home page is pitching its upcoming ZabaAlerts, which claim to let you "be notified by e-mail or text message when new public information is found about you." But you'll have to write the company on paper to remove your listing. Attention hounds can also pay ZabaSearch to make their listing stand out from the crowd.

But most of us would probably prefer to shun the spotlight. Digging on ZabaSearch, San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Lazarus found a link between ZabaSearch's cofounder and the Heaven's Gate cult. Just making that connection sounds pretty inflammatory, right? Imagine the legal nightmares ZabaSearch might run into down the road. Then again, it's not just ZabaSearch blogs that might publicize any wacky idea about someone; any Web page can do that.