I recently received a letter from a neighbour asking me to join Nextdoor. Actually, it wasn’t really from a neighbour. It was a form letter sent out by Nextdoor that used a neighbour’s name (hopefully with their consent, but who knows). It said…
“Our neighbourhood is now using a free app called Nextdoor and you should join us. We use the site to find out what’s going on in (my neighbourhood), recover lost pets, find free stuff or sell an old bike, borrow a ladder, get safety alerts, and much, much more. It’s a great way to connect neighbours in need with those who can help.”
This all sounds lovely…but…I’m already aware of Nextdoor’s dubious track record. Their “much, much, more” includes amplifying racism, neighbourhood surveillance, trolling and bullying of members and fostering a culture of fear.
So, I will be declining this invitation…
I won’t be joining Nextdoor. While this app is marketed as a folksy way to build community by borrowing ladders and selling old bikes, Nextdoor is actually a $4.3 billion dollar publicly traded corporation. Nextdoor makes money by profiling you and using your data to sell advertising. It’s very similar to Facebook or Google in that regard. Except it knows EXACTLY where you live. Facebook is actually working on it’s own version of Nextdoor, which is a big sign that local neighbourhood data is SUPER valuable.
But privacy is just one of the issues with Nextdoor. There’s much, much more.
Nextdoor is part of a new set of neighbourhood surveillance technologies which also include the Ring doorbell. These technologies feed on fear and reporting “suspicious activity” in the name of neighbour safety. Researchers have shown how the Nextdoor app has been used to build digital gated communities and perpetuate racial profiling. Instead of fostering inclusive communities, it can pit people against each other. Here are some articles you might want to check out that provide more information:
I don’t believe Nextdoor has our neighbourhood's best interests at heart. I hope you’ll think about whether or not Nextdoor is really for you given it’s dubious track record.
Katrina Ingram _______
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