Slough residents in quandary following Streetlife ‘sellout’
The demise of Streetlife this week, the social media site designed to connect neighbours with each other, has left residents in a quandary about where to turn to next – if they go anywhere at all.
Streetlife’s founders have remained silent amid accusations that it has ‘sold out’ its one million users to an American rival with little regard to privacy.
The UK-wide Streetlife website closed to new posts this week, leaving members with the option of being automatically transferred to American import Nextdoor that has angered many. It’s not just that Nextdoor displays your full name – a policy intended to make people more accountable for their posts, and keep conversation “more constructive and neighbourly” – but it also shows users’ full addresses by default with no warning.
Two weeks ago the BBC described the moved as revealing “a transatlantic cultural chasm in attitudes to privacy“, but the move has provoked a furore on Twitter with claims that people are leaving the in their droves as a result of fears of identity theft and personal safety.
GetSafeOnline, a UK-based site concerned with internet safety, put out a warning last week about the risks associated with Streetlife users moving to Nextdoor.
Streetlife was originally set up in 2011 following a trial in Wandsworth, but quickly spread nationwide. It was intended to address the limitation of Facebook networks which inevitably become an echo chamber for those sharing similar views and, instead, connect people with those who live nearby. Founder Matthew Boyes started the site when a relative couldn’t work out an easy way to warn neighbours following a burglary. Those fine principles appear to have been forgotten following the “multi million pound deal” and there has already been a high profile case of a women who complained when her violent ex-partner tracked her down through the site.
There have also been widespread suggestions, unverified, that both Streetlife and Nextdoor were censoring posts critical of the sale in the run up to Streetlife’s closure.
While Streetlife came to Slough fairly late, it built up a small but vocal following in Slough, given a huge boost by Slough Borough Council joining up in 2014. The Council gained kudos for using the platform to engage with residents, although invariably found itself on the wrong end of angry rants about botched road schemes, unemptied bins, and its support for Heathrow expansion. At its demise it had 1,235 ‘followers’ in Slough, 392 in the Colnbrook ‘neighbourhood’ and 286 in Poyle.
However, it seems only a fraction of those users have moved to Nextdoor. Just 51 have signed up to the Colnbrook with Poyle neighbourhood as of today (24th February).
Slough Borough Council appears to be leading the charge elsewhere. Since corporate users are not supported on Nextdoor, it has now moved over to Kahuti, a rival Californian based site which was apparently requested by former Streetlife members to set up in the UK. Kahuti does have better privacy settings – but so far only has less than 60 members within a 3 mile radius of Colnbrook.
Know what you’re getting into on Nextdoor …
Well over half of those who have so far signed up locally have not taken the basic step to hide the house number from their street address, the only sop to privacy that the site allows.
|Display name||You could choose any name||You must use your full name||You can choose any name|
|Address||Your nearest neighbourhood was displayed||
Your full street address is displayed by default to those within the same neighbourhood; you can hide the house number
Outside your neighbourhood your street address is hidden
|You can choose to display an optional location description. Your distance is shown|
|Post visibility||Anybody on the internet could view articles||Posts in your own neighbourhood and others that you specify will be displayed to you. Nextdoor automatically shows you posts in the nearest 15 neighbourhood but you can change this. Nextdoor your conversations are kept private among address verified neighbours – you can choose whether to post to only your neighbourhood or to share with those nearby.||You can view all posts within a radius of a location that you specify|
|Delete profile option||No option||No option||There is an option in Account Settings to delete your account|
|Verification||Optional||Address verification is mandatory||No option|