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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

I can barely believe that Haringey Council are so naïve as to promote the use of Nextdoor.co.uk in “Haringey People Extra - 10 February 2023”. Could it be that they’re getting a kickback for promoting a data mining company that will commoditise its users—the people Haringey Council should be serving?

Tags for Forum Posts: haringey, nextdoor

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I hope you'll post their answer here when you ask them.

I have asked them Gordon, but the response may take some time, as I wrote to Haringey Council (via their website) last night, shortly before creating this post.

Just received an apology for the late acknowledgement by email this evening, and “We have asked an appropriate officer to arrange an investigation of your complaint and send a full reply to you by 27 February 2023.”

Indeed. Thank you.

The reply came today, as promised, though unsatisfactory. In fairness, I should admit that in my original complaint I didn’t elaborate on Nextdoor’s sharp practice of duping respondents into unwittingly revealing their postal addresses, though I had assumed Haringey would have been aware of Nextdoor’s shady nature. I’m considering taking this further, as, even though I doubt I’ll ever get a satisfactory answer, I’d like to know whether Haringey have really considered the nature of Nextdoor. Here’s the reply:

———

Dear Mr H—,

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to investigate your complaint. I am sorry that you are unhappy with the service you received from us. My understanding of your complaint is:

An article that is appearing in Haringey People Extra referencing ‘Connect with Haringey Council on Nextdoor’.

I am sorry that you were unhappy with the article in Haringey People Extra.

There is a significant amount of people [“Head of Communication”, eh? Say no more!] on Nextdoor in Haringey. For the council it is vitally important that we have as many opportunities as possible to communicate with our residents. Although we produce Haringey People magazine (quarterly), which goes to every household in the borough, we also need to share information more regularly. We do have a presence on other social media channels, and we are always looking to enhance our communications with residents in the most efficient and cost-effective ways. 

Nextdoor allows us to target specific locations in Haringey, and we know people have made a choice to sign-up to Nextdoor to get information specifically about their local area. Nextdoor is just one of the ways in which the council wants to engage with our residents [thereby both endorsing and promoting Nextdoor!]

I hope that I have resolved your concerns to your satisfaction [Pfff! You didn’t even refer to them!]

If you are unhappy with my response, you can ask our Corporate Feedback Team to review your complaint at the Independent Review stage of our internal complaints procedure.  Information about this is on our website. You should tell them what you remain dissatisfied about and what you want us to do to put things right. This normally has to be done within six months of this response. Their contact details are:

Corporate Feedback Team
Alexandra House

10 Station Road

London

N22 7TR

Email: Corporate.Feedback@haringey.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Lesley Gordon

Head of Communications

Pronouns: She/her

Haringey Council

River Park House, 225 High Road, London N22 8HQ

  1. 020 8489 6943
  2. lesley.gordon@haringey.gov.uk

www.haringey.gov.uk

twitter@haringeycouncil

facebook.com/haringeycouncil

I was approached by Next Door first in 2012 when they were seeking to understand the UK as a potential market for them. They then opened discussions with me again some years later when they were planning a UK launch. I had a number of conversations with the company's management. including with the CEO, and as a result was given a very clear insight into how they work and their longer-term plans. Building relationships with and becoming indispensable to councils, the police and other public bodies is a critical part of their launch and growth strategy. You can see the logic for them: it's a good strategy.

After years of the council refusing to engage in any serious way with locally developed community websites, like HoL, it is somewhat galling to witness the alacrity with which Haringey have got in to bed with Next Door. However, I do understand the benefit to councils like Haringey of having a single communication channel and I can say with a high degree of confidence that no financial kick-backs are involved.

Can I ask why you see Haringey's use of ND as naive, Joe?

Naïve, Hugh, simply because Nextdoor is a disreputable, anti-democratic organisation. Haringey may well regret promoting them. My first experience of Nextdoor was receiving a letter a few years ago from their local rep who promotes himself as some sort of community activist. The content made it sound as if Nextdoor was a cosy local site run by local people (much like HoL). The letter wasn’t addressed to me by name but had a sign-up code with the promotion. Clearly it was a way to dupe respondents into unwittingly giving their address when they signed-up; the code in the letter would have been specific to the postal address. Once Nextdoor has you with an address, they can start collecting all sorts of data about you from your activites (postings, comments, etc.) on their site, and use your profile to sell you as a commodity for marketing purposes—far more valuable when they have your email address AND your postal address together. Who knows if it stops with marketing? There may well be information they can harvest that would be useful to political organisations as well. I think the whole operation is sinister.

Next Door is certainly a commercial operation. Based in the US, it is backed by many millions of of venture capital dollars, but within those limits, I'm not sure there's any reason to call it disreputable. 

From what I remember, areas, like perhaps the borough if Haringey, have a co-ordinator appointed. I think I remember that that's a paid role. They then recruit people from neighbourhoods to encourage others to join through leafleting their neighbours - that role, I'm pretty sure is unpaid.

My understanding of ND is that their long-term commercial future relies on holding a massive amount of data which becomes a valuable commodity. I imagine that advertising will also play a role.

The council (and David Lammy) always seemed to fear that HoL and similar sites would present a political challenge (that was never the intention). I guess they prefer a remote (US-based) commercial entity that has no party political skin in the game to a local one they fear may have challenged them.

Do you have any information to share to support your assertion about ND's "disreputable, anti-democratic" nature?

Nothing more, Hugh, than my previous allusions based on my previous experience of them (I had a bit of back-and-forth with their rep over the year or so while their mailings recurred a couple of times): That they dupe users into giving away the user’s residential address is enough for me to regard them as disreputable. Anti-democratic inasmuch as they are a corporation which must maximise profits regardless of how they treat their supposed “neighbourhoods”, whether it be by abusing information for marketing or for political reasons. A “a remote (US-based) commercial entity” can most definitely have some “skin in the game” when it comes to policies on online practices, privacy, advertising, etc., and can easily have paid lobbyists over here. The fact that they are not UK-based makes them all the more impervious to being fined for transgressions (and, just as an aside, to paying UK tax).

(A quick read-through of the Wikipedia article on Nextdoor—though largely relating to their practices in the US—hardly does them any credit either.)

The likes of David “Landlord” Lamy (the lefty-manqué) will always be wary of local forums informed enough to question their integrity.

I'm intrigued by the "Landlord" Lammy nickname which I hadn't heard before.

What does it relate to? His register of interests only mentions one property. It also lists payments for his other jobs at LBC and as a professional speaker. The amounts aren't much really but their frequency and the likely preparation times needed for radio shows and speaking engagements suggests he doesn't have much time left over to be an effective MP. 

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