Nextdoor

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Nextdoor Inc.
Nextdoor logo green.svg
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
Social networking service
Founded2008; 12 years ago (2008)
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California, US
Area servedAustralia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Denmark[1]
Founder(s)Nirav Tolia, Prakash Janakiraman, David Wiesen, Sarah Leary
Key peopleSarah Friar(CEO) Mike Doyle (CFO)[2]
URLnextdoor.com
Native client(s) oniOS, Android, web

Nextdoor is a hyperlocal social networking service for neighborhoods. The company was founded in 2008 and is based in San Francisco, California. Nextdoor launched in the United States in October 2011,[3] and is currently available in 11 countries. Users of Nextdoor are required to submit their real names and addresses (or street without the exact number) to the website; posts made to the website are available only to other Nextdoor members living in the same neighborhood.[4]

Since 2015, Nextdoor has been criticized for enabling its users to racially profile people of color.[5][6][7] As a platform, it also has been accused of operating as fear-based media, one that connects real estate interests to pro-security proclivities, and reaffirms class and racial biases, in the process acting as an anti-democratic privatization of the public sphere. Critics also claim that Nextdoor capriciously regulates public speech through non-transparent subjective moderation, disabling accounts which post information deemed inappropriately political, controversial, or conflictual, and generally favoring reactionary, neoliberal, and conservative points of view. [8]

History[edit]

Nextdoor was co-founded by Nirav Tolia, Sarah Leary, Prakash Janakiraman and David Wiesen in 2008. Tolia had previously helped start Epinions. Early investors included Benchmark Capital, Shasta Ventures, and Rich Barton. As of February 2014 Nextdoor had 80 to 100 employees.[9] In July 2012, Nextdoor raised US$18.6 million in venture capital funding.[10] Dan Clancy (formerly of Google) joined Nextdoor in February 2014.[11]

Nextdoor became available in the Netherlands in February 2016[12] in Germany in 2017,[13] and in France in February 2018.[14]

In February 2017, Nextdoor acquired the UK local social network service Streetlife in a "multimillion pound deal". Nextdoor's different privacy and safety policies reportedly provoked concerns among some users of Streetlife, some even claiming to have been damaged.[15][16]

Advertising was added to the platform, including real estate advertising, in 2017.[17] Advertising includes posts inside user's feeds about business services and products.

In July 2018, then-CEO co-founder Tolia announced plans to retire as chief executive officer (CEO),[18] stating that he intended to become chair of the company's board following the transition. In October 2018, Square's former chief financial officer Sarah Friar became CEO, succeeding Tolia.[19] Tolia subsequently retained his seat as a member of the company board of directors.[20]

In 2019, Nextdoor acquired local news site Hoodline.[21]

Usage[edit]

Typical platform uses include neighbors reporting on news and events in their "neighborhood" and members asking each other for local service-provider recommendations.[22] "Neighborhood" borders were initially established with Maponics, a provider of geographical information.[23] According to the platform's rules, members whose addresses fall outside the boundaries of existing neighborhoods can establish their own neighborhoods.[24][25] "Founding" members of neighborhoods determine the name of the neighborhood and its boundaries, although Nextdoor retains the authority to change either of these.[25] A member must attract a minimum of 10 households to establish a new "neighborhood", as of November 2016.[26]

While allowing for "civil debate", the platform prohibits canvassing for votes on forums.[why?] The service does however allow separate forums just for political discussions. According to The New York Times, these discussions are "separated from [a user's regular] neighborhood feeds".[27] The company had established these separate forums in 12 markets by 2018. The company has stated it "has no plans" to accept political advertising.[27]

Partnerships[edit]

The company exchanges services with government agencies such as the California Secretary of State's office and the District of Columbia Board of Elections. These public agencies collect and present voter-education information, such as voting locations and voter registration deadlines. This is offered as a link in the Nextdoor platform for members in those neighborhoods.[28]

The platform reports increased activity during disasters.[29] In May 2017, the company offered its services to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to facilitate the delivery of geographically targeted "emergency and disaster preparedness" alerts through the platform.[30] A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration partnership allows Nextdoor to send out local-community alerts during extreme weather incidents.[27]

Nextdoor has invited police officers and government officials into its Public Agencies Advisory Council in exchange for a commitment to promote Nextdoor using blog posts and referrals. Members of the Council participate in quarterly conference calls with Nextdoor employees and receive at least one trip to the company's headquarters in San Francisco, with all expenses reimbursed by Nextdoor. Nextdoor requires individuals who join the Council to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that restricts them from disclosing certain types of information about Nextdoor without the company's permission. Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation expressed concerns about the lack of transparency associated with Nextdoor's use of NDAs.[31][32]

Since at least mid-2019 Nextdoor has been part of the Facebook Audience Network (FAN) which means Facebook places their clients' ads in Nextdoor.

Financials[edit]

As of December 2017 Nextdoor had raised $285 million in financing.[33] About $75 million in new funding announced that month put its valuation at $1.5 billion.[34] In a 2017 interview with Fortune, CEO Nirav Tolia had projected "tens of millions" in revenue for 2017, but in 2018 declined to disclose the total revenue for the year as well as whether it is profitable.[35] In May 2019, Nextdoor raised $123 million at $2.1 billion valuation.[36]

Controversies[edit]

Racial profiling[edit]

Starting in 2015, media outlets have reported that Nextdoor users have been racially profiling people of color in neighborhoods across the United States.[37][5] In 2016, Nextdoor announced that users would be asked to submit identifying characteristics other than race when posting warnings about individuals or events in the neighborhood.[5]

Law enforcement officials in Oakland, California, who had generally embraced the forum as a means to connect with local residents, were wary of being seen as endorsing or associating with a website that enables racial profiling.[5] Nextdoor changed its user interface, saying the purpose was to make it harder for users to create race-based posts.[38] After the change, the Oakland Police Department said the changes made Nextdoor "more helpful" to the police department's work.[39] Co-founder Tolia claimed in a February 2017 interview with Wired that Nextdoor reduced racial profiling in its crime and safety reports by 75 percent through user interface changes.[40] A BuzzFeed News investigation indicated that racial profiling of people of color was still prevalent on Nextdoor as of May 2017, and that anti-discrimination measures previously announced by Nextdoor and proposed by Nextdoor's community members were incompletely implemented in Nextdoor's website and apps.[41]

The Atlantic discussed further concerns over hyperactive "crime and safety" sections of Seattle's private community pages on Nextdoor. According to The Atlantic, "Seattle Mayor Ed Murray derided an atmosphere of 'paranoid hysteria' he'd witnessed on the message boards of some of Seattle's more upscale neighborhoods."[42] The mayor told KUOW-FM, the local NPR affiliate, that Seattle's wealthiest areas are some of the most active communities on Nextdoor.[43] "The neighborhoods where most of the social-media complaints are coming out of are not even the neighborhoods that have significant crime problems, which tend to be our communities of color in the south part of the city. If it's simply about creating a sense of paranoia or if it's about stigmatizing folks in our city that are struggling, then I have to think about why we're in that kind of partnership."[42]

The Root documented several incidents in 2019 in which people of color and one transgender person were targeted by Nextdoor users with negative comments and "Spook Alerts" – racially charged accusations of criminal activity – when they were walking in their neighborhoods.[44]

In June 2020, The Verge reported that "Nextdoor has struggled to shed its reputation as a 'snitch' app, used by white and wealthy users to racially profile their neighbors and report them to the police", an issue that New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez termed the "Karen problem" in a rebuke of Nextdoor on Twitter.[6] During the George Floyd protests, many members of the National Leads Forum – a community of Nextdoor moderators – criticized Nextdoor's support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and expressed a preference for All Lives Matter, a slogan that signifies opposition to BLM.[45] A number of Nextdoor users had their accounts suspended or their posts deleted by Nextdoor moderators after commenting in race-related discussions or mentioning BLM during the protests.[6][46] On June 11, Nextdoor explicitly instructed its moderators to allow discussions on the Movement for Black Lives, including BLM.[47] In a blog post, CEO Friar denounced "systemic racism in our nation" and pledged to provide its moderators with "resources and support".[7]

Other[edit]

The police department in Seattle had been engaging with people through "town hall meetings" held on the platform, but in 2016 local journalist Erica C. Barnett reported the meeting's possible conflict with Washington's open meeting laws.[42]

On May 14, 2014, Nirav Tolia, then-CEO of Nextdoor, was charged with felony hit-and-run for allegedly fleeing a crash on Highway 101 in Brisbane, California that left a woman injured. "It's ironic that the CEO of a company that is holding itself out as trying to promote neighborliness, crime watch and things like that flees the scene of an accident that he caused and doesn't bother to call 911 or stay around to exchange information or see if he caused any injuries," said the woman's attorney, Joseph Brent.[48] On June 12, 2014, Tolia pled no contest and served 30 days of community service in lieu of jail time.[49]

Christina Masden et al., in a 2014 study of three neighborhoods in Atlanta, Georgia, found that Nextdoor's potential lay in "fostering grassroots moderation rather than the top-down approach they are currently using."[50]:3247 Masden's study also stated that despite the availability of other means of networking, participants found the Nextdoor application organizing and archiving their interactions "in ways that added value, above and beyond what they could accomplish with traditional media."[50]:3246

In March and April 2019, HuffPost and Wired reported that Nextdoor had paid a firm to improve its reputation by lobbying for changes to the Wikipedia articles on Nextdoor, NBC and several others.[51][52]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Help Center"; Nextdoor
  2. ^ "About". Nextdoor. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  3. ^ Lee, Ellen (March 2, 2012). "Nextdoor offers online forum for neighborhoods". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ Stross
  5. ^ a b c d Medina, Jennifer (May 18, 2016). "Website Meant to Connect Neighbors Hears Complaints of Racial Profiling". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Kelly, Makena (June 8, 2020). "Inside Nextdoor's "Karen problem"". The Verge. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Taylor, Chris (June 11, 2020). "Nextdoor is next: Why the social network of systemic racism is ripe for change". Mashable. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  8. ^ Keli Gabinelli, ‘What Is Nextdoor For?’ Spaces of Imagining and Politics of Performing Community,” Theorizing the Web Presents: Watching Me, Watching You, Aug 26, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKYkW_g4_I0
  9. ^ Isaac, Mike (February 4, 2014). "Nextdoor Taps Google Vet Dan Clancy for VP of Engineering Post". Re/code. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  10. ^ Bopper, Ben (July 24, 2012). "Nextdoor, the social network for neighbors, raises $18.6 million to help Americans stop bowling alone". The Verge.
  11. ^ "Website Dan Clancy, Feb. 2014". Archived from the original on February 4, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  12. ^ "facebook voor buren gelanceerd in nederland". Volkskrant. February 16, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  13. ^ "Why Nextdoor Believes It Can Be Social Media's Next $1 Billion Advertising Machine". Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  14. ^ "Nextdoor is expanding to France to connect neighbors – TechCrunch". techcrunch.com. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  15. ^ Cellan-Jones, Rory (February 9, 2017). "Streetlife users in Nextdoor privacy row". BBC News.
  16. ^ Streetlife users urged to consider privacy & safety Get Safe Online February 17, 2017
  17. ^ Kolodny, Lora (August 8, 2017). "Billion-dollar neighborhood social network Nextdoor moves against Zillow, Redfin". CNBC. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  18. ^ Wagner, Kurt; Schleifer, Theodore (July 25, 2018). "The CEO of Nextdoor, Nirav Tolia, will step down". Recode. Vox Media. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  19. ^ Wagner, Kurt (October 10, 2018). "Square CFO Sarah Friar is leaving to become the CEO of Nextdoor—which means she won't become the CEO of Square". Recode. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  20. ^ Zinco, Carolyne (October 14, 2019). "Nextdoor Co-Founder Nirav Tolia Talks Bringing People Together through Technology". Silicon Valley. Modern Luxury. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  21. ^ "Local News Site Hoodline Acquired By Nextdoor". Broke-Ass Stuart's Website. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  22. ^ Bogost, Ian (June 20, 2018). "What Petty Nextdoor Posts Reveal About America". The Atlantic.
  23. ^ Stross, Randall (May 12, 2012). "Meet Your Neighbors, if Only Online". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  24. ^ Lightner, Rob (September 21, 2012). "Start or join a neighborhood social network with Nextdoor". CNET. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "How are Nextdoor neighborhoods created?". Nextdoor. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  26. ^ Kalen, Christian (November 28, 2016). "Sonoma is a Nextdoor neighborhood". Sonoma Index-Register. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  27. ^ a b c "Nextdoor and NOAA Partner to Better Prepare Americans for Severe Weather". www.govtech.com. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  28. ^ Holson, Laura (July 13, 2018). "Nextdoor Is Betting a Social Network Can Still Be a Platform for Politics". Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  29. ^ "Nextdoor helps neighbors connect during Harvey". KHOU. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  30. ^ "FEMA Emergency Messaging to Start on Nextdoor App =". EfficientGov. May 24, 2017. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  31. ^ Holder, Sarah (May 21, 2020). "Nextdoor's Cozy Relationship With Government Officials". CityLab. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  32. ^ McKay, Tom (May 21, 2020). "Nextdoor Is Quietly Getting The Cops Involved: Report". Gizmodo Australia. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  33. ^ "Nextdoor Raises $75M Funding Round, Easily One of Gov Tech's Largest Deals of the Year". www.govtech.com. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  34. ^ "Nextdoor raised about $75 million to connect neighbors". TechCrunch. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  35. ^ "How Nextdoor is using verified location data to quietly build a big ads business". Digiday. Digiday Media. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  36. ^ "Neighborhood social network Nextdoor raises $123 million at $2.1 billion valuation". VentureBeat. May 14, 2019. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  37. ^ Levin, Sam (October 7, 2015). "Racial Profiling Via Nextdoor.com". East Bay Express. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  38. ^ "How Nextdoor Addressed Racial Profiling on Its Platform". Harvard Business Review. May 11, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  39. ^ Shahani, Aarti (August 23, 2016). "Social Network Nextdoor Moves To Block Racial Profiling Online". All Tech Considered. Morning Edition. National Public Radio. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  40. ^ Hempel, Jessi (February 16, 2017). "For Nextdoor, Eliminating Racism Is No Quick Fix". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  41. ^ O'Donovan, Caroline (May 18, 2017). "Racial Profiling Is Still A Problem On Nextdoor". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  42. ^ a b c Waddell, Kaveh (May 4, 2016). "The Police Officer 'Nextdoor'". The Atlantic.
  43. ^ "The Record: Thursday, Feb 25, Full Show". KUOW/NPR. February 25, 2016.
  44. ^ Harriot, Michael (June 28, 2019). "The Racist Nextdoor". The Root. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  45. ^ Sacks, Brianna; Mac, Ryan (June 5, 2020). "Some Nextdoor Moderators Are Furious With The Company's Backing Of Black Lives Matter". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  46. ^ Sacks, Brianna; Mac, Ryan (June 3, 2020). "People On Nextdoor Say The Platform Censored Their "Black Lives Matter" Posts". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  47. ^ Brandom, Russell (June 11, 2020). "Nextdoor tells community leads to allow Black Lives Matter discussions after exposé". The Verge. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  48. ^ Lee, Henry K (May 14, 2014). "Police-friendly tech CEO charged with hit-and-run". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  49. ^ Huet, Ellen (June 13, 2014). "Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia Pleads No Contest To Reduced Charge In Hit-And-Run". Forbes. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  50. ^ a b Masden, Christina A.; Grevet, Catherine; Grinter, Rebecca E.; Gilbert, Eric; Edwards, W. Keith (2014). Tensions in Scaling-up Community Social Media: A Multi-neighborhood Study of Nextdoor. Proceedings of the 32Nd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (PDF). ACM. pp. 3239–3248. doi:10.1145/2556288.2557319.
  51. ^ Feinberg, Ashley (March 14, 2019). "Facebook, Axios And NBC Paid This Guy To Whitewash Wikipedia Pages". HuffPost. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  52. ^ Cohen, Noam (April 7, 2019). "Want to Know How to Build a Better Democracy? Ask Wikipedia". Wired. Retrieved May 17, 2019.