Warning: Social Media Site Sends Letters to Your Neighbors Signed By You
Hudson Valley residents are claiming that a new social media site has tricked them into approving mass mailings signed in their name.
Imagine all of your friends and neighbors opening up their mail to find letters promoting a new social media site that have been signed by you. The only problem is that you didn't send the letters. That's what many Hudson Valley residents are claiming happened to them, and they're warning others to watch out.
The issue doesn't appear to be a scam or some sort of identity theft. Instead, it's a misunderstanding by some web users who unknowingly authorize the site to automatically send out hundreds of letters in their name.
You may have received one of these letters in the mail. The postmark is from California, but the message appears to be from one of your neighbors.
Hi (your neighborhood street name) neighbors,
Our neighborhood is now using a free app called Nextdoor (your neighborhood) and you should join us.
The letter goes on to tout the benefits of joining the app and ends with a personal message from you.
(your name and street)
Facebook has postings from people who claim that they were unaware they ever gave permission for Nextdoor to send out the letters and many are "creeped out" that their name and street are being shared to so many people without their knowledge.
In reality, the Nextdoor app is pretty clear during their signup process that sending physical invitations to your neighbors is optional. After joining the website you'll be asked to enter your home address and email so you that local information will appear on your feed. After that, the website makes it optional to add your spouse's name and email. The next page has a green button that authorizes Nextdoor to send up to 150 letters to people in your neighborhood and surrounding area, inviting them to join the website.
The website makes it very clear that by pressing the giant green button your name and street name will be used to send out mailed invitations to 150 people living in your neighborhood. In a world where people agree to terms of service without ever reading it, I guess it's no surprise that some Hudson Valley residents don't remember clicking the button and are shocked when everyone in their neighborhood suddenly receives letters from them.
This is just a reminder that whenever you sign up for anything on the Internet it's important to read what you're agreeing to before clicking. Luckily, aside from being a little embarrassing, these letters aren't harmful and the website actually looks like it's pretty useful. I may even sign up myself -- but don't expect a letter from me in the mail. I'll be extra careful to avoid hitting that big green button.