Facebook’s Nextdoor-clone neighborhoods will soon be available in four U.S. cities
Facebook, which has never seen a social network it couldn’t copy, says its Nextdoor-clone neighborhoods are now available across Canada and are coming soon in four US cities. According to CNET, US locations targeted are Charlotte, North Carolina; San Diego, California; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Newark, New Jersey.
Like Nextdoor, Neighborhoods is about bringing together geographically defined user groups in a single space to discuss local events. Facebook says users should be able to get to know neighbors, ask for recommendations for the best cafes or locksmiths, and organize local events. Users can also create splinter groups specific to their interests.
“You can find vibrant local Facebook groups about your area, or you can create your own neighborhood-limited groups based on your interests,” Facebook explains in a blog post. “You can create neighborhood groups for local bird watchers or discuss last night’s game with other basketball fans in your area.”
It’s pretty much certain that at least some of the activity of these groups will also turn into petty quarrels, violent political arguments, and outright racism, as we’ve seen on Nextdoor. Facebook also has a pretty terrible track record when it comes to letting user groups hang around. Facebook groups, which also allow users to organize themselves around shared interests, have been identified as hotbed of unmoderated extremism, feeding everything from white supremacy and anti-vaccine misinformation to conspiracy theories. We do not know at all how Facebook will prevent these same problems from erupting in its new neighborhoods.
Only users aged 18 and over will be allowed to join these groups, where they can create a new profile separate from their main Facebook account. They can “choose to add Interests, Favorite Places and a Bio” to this profile before introducing themselves to the group. People will also be able to take on specific roles, relationships CNET, such as “socializer”, “help” or “welcome”. What these roles will involve or how people will claim them is not clear.
Reid Patton, product manager for Facebook Neighborhoods, said CNET that each group will have moderators to “make sure people are following guidelines and being nice” (this is a quote from CNET not Patton). But again, we don’t know who these moderators are (volunteers? Paid employees?) Or what powers they will have to enforce Facebook’s rules. We reached out to Facebook with questions and will update this story if we hear more.