Facebook is developing a new platform to help users get to know their neighbours and neighbourhoods, similar to the social media service Nextdoor.
The world’s largest social media website announced Wednesday that Neighborhoods, a feature of its smartphone app, would be available in four US cities and Canada. To use the new tool, Facebook users must be at least 18 years old. It would encourage people to locate neighbours with similar values, explore local associations and organisations, engage in elections, and get and give support to those in their neighbourhoods.
Charlotte, North Carolina; San Diego, California; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Newark, New Jersey are among the cities of the United States. Facebook users also use the social network for these purposes through communities, but Neighborhoods brings all of this knowledge together in one location.
Using Neighborhoods is voluntary, and users must share their position in order to be matched to a neighbourhood. Aside from posting their Facebook profile stats, people can even share their hobbies, such as biking, and there is a section to get to know the pets in your community. People who use the function can also take on various positions such as “socializer,” “helper” or “welcomer,” according to her.
“We’re not only showing people who lives in their neighbourhood but how they relate to them and what these people are interested in and care about,” Reid Patton, product manager for Facebook Neighborhoods, said in an interview.
Canadians who have already begun testing the app have used it to locate lost dogs, plan camping adventures, meet new people, hire a handyman, and obtain baking supplies, according to Patton.
The new feature, which is available for both Android and iPhone users, may pose additional challenges for Facebook, which is still struggling to moderate the billions of posts that pass through its web. People may even be suspicious of providing any more data to Facebook, which has been embroiled in many privacy controversies.
Facebook is also known for imitating its rivals, but social networking sites that concentrate on communities, such as Nextdoor, have had their own issues, such as racial discrimination. Before a user joins Neighborhoods, Facebook will outline rules, stating that it needs to keep the online environment “inclusive” and “safe,” according to Patton.
Every neighbourhood will also have moderators to ensure that people follow the rules and be courteous, she said. Users with too-new profiles and anyone that have previously broken the site’s laws, according to Patton, will be barred from using Neighborhoods. She didn’t say how many breaches there were or how old the accounts had to be.
Users who are registered for Neighborhoods testing will get a message and a banner in the Facebook app urging them to participate.
“We’re really trying to see how neighbourhoods is being used and the value people are getting out of it,” Patton said. “We also hope to learn how we can better improve the product.”