Facebook, which has never seen a social network it couldn’t copy, says its Nextdoor clone Neighborhoods is now available across Canada and is available soon in four US cities. According to CNET, the targeted US locations are Charlotte, North Carolina; San Diego, California; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Newark, New Jersey.
Like Nextdoor, Neighborhoods is all about bringing geographically defined groups of users together in a single space to discuss the local ins and outs. Facebook says users should be able to get to know neighbors, ask for recommendations for the best coffee shops, or organize locksmiths and 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 neighbor groups based on your interests,” Facebook said in a statement. blog post. “You can create Neighborhoods groups for local bird watchers, or discuss last night’s game with other basketball fans in your area.”
It’s pretty certain that at least some of the activity in these groups will also turn into petty fights, tricky political arguments, and downright racism, as we’ve seen on Nextdoor. Facebook also has a pretty bad track record when it comes to letting groups of users hang out. Facebook groups, which also allow users to organize around shared interests, have been identified as one hotbed of unmoderated extremism, which cherishes everything from white supremacy to misinformation about anti-vaccines and conspiracy theories. It’s not at all clear how Facebook is going to prevent the same problems from erupting in its new neighborhoods.
Only users 18 and older are allowed to join these groups, where they can create a new profile independently of their main Facebook account. They can “choose to add interests, favorite places and a biography” to this profile before introducing themselves to the group. People will also be able to take on specific roles, reports CNET, such as ‘socializer’, ‘helper’ or ‘welcomer’. However, it is not clear what these roles will entail or how people will claim them.
Reid Patton, a product manager for Facebook Neighborhoods, said CNET that every group of moderators will have to “make sure people stick to guidelines and are friendly” (that’s a quote from CNET not Patton). But again, it’s not clear who these moderators are (volunteers? Paid employees?) Or what powers they will have to enforce Facebook’s rules. We’ve reached out to Facebook with questions and will update this story when we hear more.