Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hippopost Brings Free Postcards to Facebook at the Cost of Privacy?

Ever wanted to send free post cards? Hippopost is making the bet that you do. They are a new service offered through Facebook and on the web that will let you create and send post cards for free. They pay the postage in return for placing an advertisement on the back of the card, but with no privacy policy you are using the service at your own risk.

The service is straight forward and easy to use. You basically start with a picture that you upload (or one that is already on Facebook) or choose from a selection of post cards. You can then write a personalized message, followed by the recipients address. You can even choose which advertisement will be printed on the back of the card. One area that could be improved would be to automate the filling out of the address by letting you choose from your friends on Facebook that have their addresses visible.

From what I can tell, their business model is advertisement based. Advertisements are on the application itself and on the card. I'm not sure if this will be viable source of revenue considering that postage to the U.S is 41 cents a pop. I doubt that a few ad impressions per user would recoup this operating cost. Maybe the company is a little more insidious than they appear and are selling the sender and sendee's addresses? It would be within their legal right to do so because as of right now there is no privacy policy on the site.

This is definitely troubling. Had I realized this before I used the service to send two cards, I wouldn't have used it. I think this has potential to be a great service, provided they get a privacy policy, and they don't go broke from operating costs.

Update: This story is being covered over on Techcrunch per my suggestion! I guess the privacy issue isn't a big of deal as I made it out to be because a member of the Hippopost team stated on their forum that they do not sell or give your information to their advertisers.

Update: Since this post, they have updated their privacy policy. Also, the two post cards that I sent were received and they look great. It took a little while, about 3 weeks, but hey, they were free!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the coverage and heads up on the privacy issue. I've never seen a site with a Privacy Policy that reads, "coming soon..."?

Anonymous said...

There is a site called that also do something very similar.

They dont put advertisements on the card and charge a reasonable fee.

The cards are sent from the UK, US and Australia.

They do have a privacy policy :)

Anonymous said...

I tried to send a post card, and it's been over two post card.

Anonymous said...

They do currently have a privacy policy, but I now feel a little worried that I have mailed off a couple of postcards since finding this site. It seems legit, though. Sure hope that those postcards actually arrive...

Unknown said...

The postcards arrived and they looked great.

Will be sending more

Wendy said...

It worked. ONCE.
I went back to send my daughter a card for starting back to school - and when you hit "send" for your personal card, it took you to a message to buy cards. It stated you would be able to use your 2 "free" daily cards before the ones you bought (after you bought them, of course). What a jip. I emailed them w/ a piece of my mind. I'm sure they got enough press about free cards that they aren't doing it anymore - I went to the site today and it said "Oops! We don't have any free cards today - feel free to purchase..." (When I signed up, it said you got 2 free daily cards. Yeah, right.)

Unknown said...

Yes i agree wendy. I found that hippo post only gives you free ones after you buy some cards

Anonymous said...

Wendy & david, hippopost allows up to 10 cards per day provided that the advertisers have the inventory. sometimes it so successful the inventory runs out and the advertisers need to replenish...good business to be able to control impressions...if thats what a company wants?!