“Addressgate.com is a free, highly specialized social network designed to promote neighborhood engagement and neighbor-to-neighbor communication. All members must successfully claim their home address, after which they can communicate with other neighbors privately and view or post neighborhood-wide alerts, news and events.” Wait, I’d like to know my neighbors, I thought. Perhaps this press release, unlike the other 200 startup press releases I got this week, is talking about something that’s actually a good idea.
Hailing from South Miami, Florida, Addressgate encourages you to put up a big splashy picture of your house so you can show off your new window treatments and decorate your digital lawn with digital Christmas lights and political signs. Cute!
Or not. The first thing Addressgate had me do? Enter my address. The address form asks for your apartment number. Okay, random startup from Florida—you have some cute cartoons on your homepage, but you haven’t really earned my trust yet. How do I know your site is secure? How do I know you won’t screw up one day and accidentally expose my address to people outside my neighborhood? And why do I need to indicate my apartment number—are you going to send me some mail?
After I typed in an address, Addressgate offered up an image from Google Streetview. Then it directed me to the social network. The first thing I noticed was a column of Google ads. Alarm bells. The second thing I noticed was that the feed, meant to be for updates from neighbors, was full of listings from Eventful and offers from Amazon. Gross. I headed to Twitter to unauthorize the app, only to find out it had tweeted without my permission:
Just linked my street address to Twitter using Addressgate.com.
— Adrianne Jeffries (@ADRjeffries) June 22, 2012
Congratulations, Addressgate. You’ve elegantly married the two scourges of social media, privacy invasion and spamminess.
UPDATE, 6/25: Manny Menendez of Addressgate writes in to address Adressgate-gate. “We just removed the welcome tweets from the code. From this point forward when someone signs up to Addressgate with a Twitter account they will not get a Tweet at all. The change is live now.”