WhitePages.com does exactly what you’d expect from the name — it tries to provide phone book-style listings for both the U.S. and Canada. Of course, there’s nothing new about that, so WhitePages.com tries to do an especially thorough job. The company claims that at the end of 2007, it had 180 million U.S. adults, about 80% of the population, in its records.
As Web 2.0, social networking and a changing idea of personal privacy have come to the fore, WhitePages.com has also started to ask itself how it might offer users more control over their information while providing more and different kinds of information. Forward-thinking, maybe noble even but, as experience is showing, far easier said than done.
Specifically, founder and CEO Alex Algard has said that the company would start adding features to let people edit and/or hide portions of their directory information. At the same time early this year, the company promised that it would work on a way to let people send text messages or e-mails, using the directory information but without revealing their information — something along the lines of a social-networking site such as LinkedIn or Facebook.
For example, let’s say you were looking for your old high school girlfriend, and she’s listed in WhitePages.com’s records, but chooses to keep her information hidden. With the system Algard envisions, you could send her a note via WhitePages.com, and she could then decide whether to get back in touch with you or to call the police because you’re still stalking her after all those years.