Grindr for leftovers, and other disturbing news of the sharing economy gold rush.

Ok, so now Grindr for leftovers is a thing.

Um. Trying so hard to get my brain around this. It makes sense, and yet, it freaks me the hell out. I have many times taken leftover food from an office party or food service business I worked at to the free stuff drop off at People’s Park- where the park-dwellers rush your car and ask if you have anything organic- and yet somehow this app seems really dangerous and crazy to me.

I’ve written before about how enterprise monetizing the sharing economy unnerves me.

When I mentioned this story to my co-workers, I asked if they remembered the Tylenol poisoning scare. But of course they’re too young. “Um, I saw the Law & Order episode?”

Public safety consciousness (or paranoia) seems to cycle. When I was a kid, in Manhattan in the ’70s, there were no cloth covered furnishings in public places. You knew that it was because of lice, that a big city just didn’t have the luxury of having cloth covered furnishings in most public spaces because of lice and crabs and scabies. Then in the ’90s, as cities became desirable to the wealthy again, and New York was Giuliani’d, people forgot why we’d gotten rid of couches in coffee shops. I’ve never seen “Friends”, but my understanding is that there was a coffee shop with couches. Suddenly big cities had soft furnishings again. Guess what happened in the Oughts? Bedbugs.

The lesson is, don’t get too comfortable. The lesson is, cops never catch up with the robbers. The lesson is, don’t bet against the house when the house is entropy. It’s easy enough to poison a stranger; security seals on medicines and beverages were as stupid and pointless a form of security theater as TSA confiscating shampoo. But why make it extra easy for a stranger to poison you? Opportunistic predator is opportunistic.

And let’s talk about food safety.

For food to be leftover, it has to have been served. I’ve taken California Food Safety Certification, and I can tell you that cooked meat left at room temp has a much shorter safety window than you think. When you buy food at a restaurant, you’re buying food from someone who’s in the food-selling business. They have a business to lose if they screw up food-selling. If you as a private citizen screw up food-GIVING, you don’t have anything to lose. Well, unless someone sues you.

LeftoverSwap hasn’t launched yet, so you can’t read their TOS. I wonder if it resembles the terrifying abdication of responsibility of Lyft and Sidecar.

I’m 100% certain that the folks who’ve created LeftoverSwap are going to make completely certain that it’s the swappers who are liable. If you look at the TOS of ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Sidecar, you can see they protect neither drivers nor riders.

Here’s a typical example of startup denial, in the wake of news that rideshare drivers have been arrested at SFO:

Uber and Lyft say they�re not aware of any drivers who have been arrested at the airport.

And yet, Sidecar warned their drivers formally recently. I suspect Uber and Lyft are just as aware of the problem.

And there’s the other story around Lyft and ridesharing, which is that your regular auto insurance doesn’t cover using your vehicle as a cab. You could lose your coverage, or find your vehicle uncovered for an accident that happens while you’re ridesharing. There’s an excellent post on the legal and insurance implications of ridesharing on the Appel law firm’s blog.


Let’s examine the logical extension of this. I have renter’s insurance that provides personal liability coverage for accidents occurring to persons in my home. Say I cook too much chili in my house, and give away the leftovers on LeftoverSwap. Say I left that chili in the Danger Zone (40 to 140 F) for over two hours before I posted to the app, and people get food poisoning. Say someone who eats the chili is immunocompromised, say pregnant or positive or has Hep C., and say they die.

If I’m sued for making the chili in my home, will my renter’s insurance cover me or will I lose my coverage for failing to notify State Farm that I was running a food-service operation out of my house? Will I also be penalized by the state of California for running food-service noncompliant with their very stringent and complex regulations?

Pretty scary, huh? Now you’ve lost your renter’s insurance, your auto insurance, and your place has bedbugs because you rented it on AirBnB.

So monetizing the sharing economy is a very risky idea for private citizens- although it’s a great idea for the startup CEOs who are cashing in on the naivete of a generation who has never heard about Jim Carroll and Patti Smith racing crab lice at the Chelsea.

this post originally appeared on the T324 blog.

This entry was posted in Tech news of the weird on by .

About Suzanne Forbes

Suzanne Forbes is a traditionally trained figurative artist, writer and bricoleur. She is an expat New Yorker living and thriving in Berlin with her third husband and their two cats. In previous lives she was a courtroom artist for CBS and CNN, a penciller for DC Comics on Star Trek, and a live-drawing chronicler of Bay Area alternative culture.

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