By Sue Pascoe
Co-founded in 2011 by Sarah Leary, Nirav Tolia, Prakash Jnakiraman and David Wiesen, Nextdoor bills itself as the “private social network for neighborhoods.” It offers a free web platform on which members can post a wide variety of messages to people who live in their neighborhood.
But by collecting names and actual addresses, which are required in order to register on the site, Nextdoor members become targets for advertisers across the country. In an April 2017 Adweek story, CEO Tolia said: “These are in-feed ads, the same way you’d find ads on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. But they are unique in that you can target by DMA [designated marketing area], by zip code, by neighborhood, by physical address. None of those other platforms can target by physical address.”
A more recent story in Adweek noted that “Nextdoor aims to make $1 billion annually in advertising, by allowing agents and brokers to create official business pages on the seven-year-old company’s platform to enhance their personal brands locally.
“‘It’s an opportunity for real estate agents to sponsor a dedicated section where they can connect and build relationships with neighbors,’ Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia told CNBC.’”
The January 25 Nextdoor Palisades began with Sponsored Posts for Home Chef and Match.com and three Real Estate list ings for a local realtor. Other advertisers have included other realtors, Urban Sitter and 7-Eleven.
While the bottom line for this website might be money, and it works well as a site to find lost pets, seek service providers and sell household goods, Nextdoor has been encountering problems trying to police various postings for accuracy and fairness.
The magazine In These Times wrote in August that Nextdoor starting drawing complaints about racial profiling in 2015.
One “Oakland neighborhood reported ‘sketchy’ men, including an ‘African American guy,’ who were guilty of ‘lingering.’ One neighbor suggested calling the police.
“A woman named Meredith Ahlberg recognized them—she’d invited them to her house for a party and given them the wrong address. ‘Since signing up for the app in 2012, Ahlberg has repeatedly seen black people in the neighborhood described as ‘suspicious’ characters,’ said writer Pendarvis Harshaw.”
Sam Levin of the East Bay Express wrote in an October 2015 story that James and sister Emma Fisher and his parents are not just worried about hurtful stares from neighbors or passersby, but “Over the last two years, their neighborhood has become overrun with racial profiling—but not by police, rather by mostly white residents incorrectly assuming that people of color who are walking, driving, hanging out, or living in the neighborhood are criminal suspects . . . with the click of a mouse.”
On Reviewopedia, a January 4 Nextdoor review by “Sam” said: “Let me tell you how bad it’s gotten . . . the police departments, schools, cities, local clubs and organizations won’t even use it anymore. It’s become a snake pit . . . where bullies and trolls quickly run off the good people . . . leaving a sh*t pile of bullies and trolls left in the Nextdoor trenches and then they start turning on each other and it becomes a horrible disaster worthy of morbid curiosity.”
Residents in the Palisades Highlands who used Nextdoor to comment, pro and con, about the proposed senior assisted-living center might agree with that assessment.