Nextdoor’s neighbors aren’t polite to strangers

When Nextdoor, the social network for neighbors to share local news and concerns, becomes public at a valuation of $ 4.3 billion, it will trade on the Nasdaq under the KIND stock symbol. This week’s announcement is part of Nextdoor’s effort to tarnish a reputation for allowing certain users to behave in the opposite way.

His son mission is now “cultivating a friendlier world where everyone has a neighborhood where they can lean” and has since 2019 warned its users against becoming litigious and frustrated with “memories of kindness” generated by artificial intelligence that emerge if they write something ugly. This April, he added anti-racism notifications in the United States after local flare-ups over the Black Lives Matter movement.

But “kind” has two meanings: to be friendly and helpful, and a group of people who are similar to each other. The old English word “cynd” is defined in a dictionary such as “a class or race distinct from innate characteristics” – originally nobles who were destined to behave nobles. For Nextdoor and its emerging rival Facebook Neighborhoods, there’s the cool.

Nextdoor faces the problem of all social platforms. They connect people to vast networks, triggering a flow of information, providing entertainment and encouraging company, but they can accentuate the hard side of human nature.

People lean on others, especially strangers and those who dismiss them, often for schizophrenic evidence, such as opponents or enemies. Then Facebook launched at Harvard University in 2004, a digital innovation that was intended to allow friendships encouraged tribes at war.

Most of the neighbors have a strong incentive to go well. Homophilia, or Aristotle’s principle that “people love those who are like them,” is encouraged by life nearby. As one study said, “geography is the physical substrate on which homophilia is built.”

Which works best for Nextdoor, where many discussions are about lost cats, or who knows a good electrician. My experience of the WhatsApp group on our way, the technology used in many micro-neighborhoods, is strictly positive and sometimes warms the heart.

Many groups, whether on Nextdoor, Facebook or messaging apps, came into their own during pandemic closures. Roads where people only vaguely know their neighbors are born alive with offers of mutual help.

Prakash Janakiraman, a co-founder of Nextdoor, argues that the network is different from others in being built around “utility, not affinity”. You don’t have to resemble neighbors to want to share information with them – it’s helpful to know others if the letters are wrong or you need a parking permit. The clothes of everyday life create much of their value.

Local bets can be spread on Nextdoor. “I was legally allowed to sunbathe naked in my garden. Please stop calling the police! ” read a post highlighted on the Twitter account “Best of Nextdoor”. But the deepest tensions arise when, as in westerns, a stranger rides into town.

Despite their emphasis on utility, neighbors have an affinity and an identity of interest, especially when threatened. Stolen cars, flat break-ins and door-to-door truffles are among the next points of the Nextdoor group’s talk for my district. This is natural for self-protection, but raises strong feelings.

The danger is evident in the United States, where white users have posted material to see black people around, and warned of the alleged risks of crime. The story of the country’s segregation doesn’t help – a Nextdoor guestroom article quote a 1949 act in a Los Angeles home without occupation by “any person other than the White or Caucasian race.”

This is aggravated after the murder of the police George Floyd last year, when local moderators of Nextdoor deleted messages supporting the Black Lives Matter movement under anti-politics rules that intruded on forums. The company changed its policy, and added anti-racism notifications.

He recruited more volunteer moderators, offered them anti-racist training, and put in place surveillance of the most thorny issues. His approach is guided by Jennifer Eberhardt, a professor of social psychology at Stanford University, who sustain which makes people slow down and think before reacting in anger or fear helps to curb hostility.

But Nextdoor only has 60m users and makes tension between caution and growth. He has a new competition from Facebook, with his 2.85 billion Monthly users and predatory instincts. Facebook is spreading Neighborhoods in some U.S. cities, with a similar design and a familiar promise to “maintain interaction between relevant and kind neighbors.”

Artificial intelligence can calm some anger – Nextdoor says its prompts, based on scanning posts for phrases that are already tagged, reduced racial profiling of 75 percent. But if machines could solve the aggression, Twitter would be a quieter place.

The future of Nextdoor rests on the meaning of a word. Will the neighbors be kind, or will they be triggered by threats of their kind? An ambiguity that goes back to the Middle Ages is not easily resolved.

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