Feb 23, 2022 - Technology

Nextdoor says communities' self-moderation works

Photo illustration of Sarah Friar and the Nextdoor logo.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nextdoor, the neighborhood-based social network, wants to remind the world that it operates very differently from its giant competitors, as the Wednesday release of its first-ever transparency report underscores.

Why it matters: The report emphasizing Nextdoor's community moderation approach comes as the U.S. and other countries weigh efforts to tighten regulation of the industry.

By the numbers: Nextdoor is highlighting data points that it says show its focus on community-based moderation can get results.

  • Over the past year, Nextdoor says that more than 233,000 community volunteers around the world voted on whether to take action on at least one piece of reported content.
  • For posts that were ultimately taken down, Nextdoor says that the median time to remove reported content was 4.6 hours.
  • When shown either a "kindness reminder" or "anti-racism warning" prompt about potentially rule-breaking content about to be posted, a third of people edited or withheld their post, Nextdoor reports.
  • As for government requests, Nextdoor said it received 18 U.S. subpoenas, 11 search warrants and provided content related to two child safety reports.

Between the lines: Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar says that she hopes the report will show lawmakers that Nextdoor differs from its peers and that regulations should take that into account.

  • "One size does not fit all," Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar told Axios.
  • She also says that the platforms themselves can use technology to help identify and limit the spread of problematic content. "There is still a lot of white space for platforms to go innovate," she said.
  • And, she adds, Nextdoor is proof that companies can verify that users are who they say the are, and do so without relying on facial recognition. (Nextdoor verifies users and their address using a variety of techniques including location data and public/private databases.)

The big picture: Nextdoor, which focuses on connecting people who are physically close to one another, has been growing in recent years, with a spike in use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In the U.S., about one in three adults use Nextdoor, up from one in five a couple years back.

Yes, but: Nextdoor is still working to address its early reputation as a haven for neighborhood busybodies, some of whom resorted to racial profiling.

  • "There definitely was real work to be done," Friar said.
  • Friar noted the company's work with an outside advisory group that includes the head of the NAACP and academic experts in bias. "We don't purport to know the answer to everything," she said.
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