Spokeo wants the next generation of students to think more critically about digital identity. To that end, the company is creating a $5,000 Spokeo Digital Identity Scholarship that will be awarded to the student who writes the best essay on the subject.
The contest is only open to US residents who are enrolled in a college or university based in the country (the winner’s prize will be sent directly to their school, rather than a private bank account). Those interested in applying must be 18 years of age or older, and must submit their 800-1,250-word digital identity essay by June 12. The winners will be announced sometime before August 5. The scholarship is field agnostic, which is to say that students do not need to be studying a particular subject in order to enter.
Spokeo itself runs a massive people searching platform that allows users to perform background checks and learn personal information about virtually any subject. The platform cross-references names and contact information with millions of court, housing, social media, and employment records, and can generate a location history or a list of known associates. The scholarship is a nod to the fact that more interactions happen online in the wake of COVID-19, and is designed to motivate students to consider their virtual footprint more carefully.
“We are seeing less of each other in real life and connecting more online with our digital identities,” explained Spokeo Co-Founder and CEO Harrison Tang. “We are offering this scholarship to encourage students to examine what digital identity means to them and to consider what benefits and risks might we face, as society and individuals, as digital identity evolves in the years ahead.”
In the meantime, Spokeo has launched a new Spokeo Protect portfolio to help people safeguard their identities. The solution monitors the activity associated with a client’s name, and notifies them if it spots any anomalous activity.