DogVacay is a website where people who love dogs can offer dog sitting services. I know because I love dogs but can’t have one right now because of travel and career commitments. So sometimes I host dogs for friends or through DogVacay. I love all the dogs who have visited me through the site, even the ones that were a tiny bit neurotic.
What don’t I love? DogVacay’s privacy practices.
Yesterday, I got an email from Nextdoor.com. It asked me to “verify my email address.”
I didn’t remember visiting nextdoor.com, or signing up for an account. So I ignored the email.
Later that morning, I started getting emails from Nextdoor. They were updates from people in my neighborhood who were posting to Nextdoor.
It appeared that somehow—for reasons I couldn’t understand—somebody had set up an account for me on Nextdoor. So I visited Nextdoor and reset the password associated with my email address, then emailed Nextdoor to try to find out what was going on.
Nextdoor replied a few hours later:
Oh, betrayal. Could DogVacay—a site that had only brought me joy in the past—really have shared (sold??) its account data with Nextdoor without so much as notifying the users?
Personally, I think it’s utterly unreasonable for DogVacay to take my account information and use it to sign me up for a different website without telling me. I think the folks at DogVacay should have realized that, if I’d wanted an account on Nextdoor, it was well within my abilities to go set one up.
I also think Nextdoor should have held DogVacay to a higher standard, and not accepted the new accounts unless 1. DogVacay had notified its users and 2. Users affirmatively consented to it. At the very least, Nextdoor shouldn’t have kept sending me email when I hadn’t signed up for an account or verified my email address.
DogVacay, do better. Your business exists because of dog sitters who entrust you with their data, and Rover.com is waiting in the wings.
UPDATE (January 20, 2016 at 2:15 PM)
I emailed my concerns to DogVacay, offered to talk to them, and sent them a copy of this blog post. I got two emails from them. The first at 10:45 AM with the subject line “Exclusive: Grow your business on Nextdoor for free.”
Note that there’s no language like “We set up an account for you on another site.”
The second email came at 1:19 PM, from a customer service rep:
Then there was a coupon code for $50.