Unknowing ‘neighbor’ expresses concern over letters sent
With 9,357 Nextdoor “residents” in Narragansett, Rhode Island, have you recently joined the neighborhood?
If you have, you may want to check the settings of your Nextdoor app profile to see if you’re sending your information out to anyone unknowingly.
The week before Thanksgiving, University of Rhode Island junior French and theatre major Allegra Levone got a text from a friend that had received a letter in the mail with her first and last name, alongside the name of her off-campus street.
This surprised her, because she said she didn’t recall clicking anything to give the app permission to send her information out or to promote the company.
“I have a friend from the theatre department who texted me a picture jokingly and was like, ‘Oh, thanks Allegra for sending me this letter,’ and I was like ‘I did not send you that letter,’” Levone said.
The letter that her friend, senior elementary education major Jenna Andrade, received was not specifically addressed to her, which Levone said made her assume it had been sent to everyone on Andrade’s street, which is not close to Levone’s residence.
Three weeks into living in Narragansett, Levone said she downloaded the app at the recommendation of a neighbor when she wanted to find the owners of a cat she found.
“For a really long time I used to [read through the terms and conditions of apps I downloaded], but when I downloaded Nextdoor I was just really worried about the cat so I wasn’t really focused on [the] fine print,” she said. “But I’m almost sure that if I had gone in it would’ve been like ‘Nextdoor reserves the right to use your information to encourage other people to join Nextdoor.’ Which is a great fine print to put in if you’re the company advertising, but not if you’re the customer.”
According to Nextdoor’s website, if a member is interested in sending out invitations to any neighbors, the invitation process delineates that the letter you have sent out through Nextdoor will include your name, street name and “helpful information about Nextdoor.”
Their website, when addressing “neighbor-to-neighbor invitations,” states that invitations will never be sent on a member’s behalf without their permission and that if a member “accidentally chose to send invitations” and wants to cancel them, they should contact nextdoor.com/support.
Nextdoor declined the request for an interview with the Cigar.
When Levone got the text from Andrade, she said she felt confused, but had a lot going on at the time and put it off. Additionally, she said it didn’t feel “pressing” enough since the address they were giving out was one she would only be living at for another six months.
“Over this past weekend, I got a notification from Nextdoor that somebody had accepted my invitation, I don’t know who they are,” she said. “So I hope they’re happy on Nextdoor? I don’t even really know who to go to about it because it feels like the damage is done, they’ve already sent out these letters and they’re not going to go collect them and take them back.”
Levone said she was unsure if this had happened to any other people who have joined Nextdoor or if she had inadvertently hit a button to send out invitations for the app.
When Andrade came to realize that Levone did not know this letter was sent out with her information on it, she said she was concerned.
“It’s very concerning that her information was just sent out for all of these people to see without her knowledge that they have this information, and I don’t think that should be allowed,” Andrade said.
Soon after the Cigar reached out to Levone for this story, she reached out to other friends to see if they had received the letter as well. She said no one else reported receiving such a letter.
Levone has not used the app since the cat issue was resolved.
If you are someone that finds yourself inclined to download Nextdoor, whether that be to join a walking club or post about a cat you found, be sure to read the terms and conditions.