Facebook is becoming a bit more like Nextdoor in an effort to boost its groups feature. The only problem is that Facebook seems to be borrowing one of Nextdoor’s most controversial concepts: empowering community moderators.
On Wednesday, the company Announced he was greatly enhancing the powers of the community moderators of his groups. Admins can now do a number of new things, like automatically block certain people to comment on conversations based on factors such as how long they have been members of the group. Facebook says the new tools are intended to help “administrators play a key role in helping maintain a safe and healthy culture.” The changes are part of Facebook’s broader shift toward relying more on unpaid community managers, who get special privileges in exchange for managing the conversation in individual groups.
There are other new powers now at the disposal of administrators, such as an AI-powered alert that marks conversations “contentious and unhealthy”, and new summaries that moderators can use to review the activity of any member in a particular group. When asked if the new features were inspired by Nextdoor’s moderation system, Facebook spokesperson Leonard Lam said: “Our product team speaks regularly with our community of admins to better understand their needs, and the features that we announce today. they reflect the direct feedback we have received from them. ”
The approach largely resembles the way neighborhood-based media platform Nextdoor has handled moderation for years. The problem is, the Nextdoor model hasn’t really worked. Their communities are plagued with haphazard approach to disinformation and complaints of toxic fights between group members, along with accusations of bias and inconsistent community moderators.
Maybe things will work out differently for Facebook. But the new approach to moderation isn’t the only example of Facebook trying to be more like Nextdoor. So Facebook is getting ready to launch a Nextdoor-style group feature in the US called Neighborhoods, the feature is now available in Canada, which will allow users to create and join groups that are limited to geographic areas, which is what Nextdoor does. Facebook will also rely on unpaid community moderators to enforce its guidelines for the Neighborhoods feature, which are intended to keep content “relevant and friendly.” Nextdoor does this too.
Recruiting users to act as community moderators has its problems, something Nextdoor knows all too well. In recent years, Nextdoor has encountered many of the same moderation issues as Facebook, including the distribution of hate speech, conspiracy theories, and political disinformation. Nextdoor faced criticism last year when unpaid community moderators Censored and Removed Posts in Support of Black Lives Matter Protests after the murder of George Floyd. Later, the company emphasized that these publications were speech allowed and, earlier this year, launched a notification system against racism it is supposed to incite users who are about to post potentially racist content. Medical misinformation about Covid-19 is also a problem, users told Recode in February. They also complained that the platform’s community-based moderation system had allowed conspiracy theories to flourish.
Nextdoor has also had trouble handling the policy talks. As Recode reported last year, Nextdoor groups can be invaded by tense political arguments that their unpaid moderators are not equipped or motivated to resolve. The platform’s problems with political discourse became apparent after the Capitol uprising on January 6, when Nextdoor silently stopped recommend political groups (Facebook decided to do this too at about the same time).
Nextdoor’s moderation model is far from perfect, but Facebook is betting it will more closely resemble Nextdoor, which has become increasingly popular during the pandemic – could be successful. Ultimately, the two platforms appear to be converging to offer group-based interactions and AI-enhanced community moderation, despite both Facebook and Nextdoor continuing to fight misinformation, racism, and toxic speech.
Today’s news is just another sign that Nextdoor and Facebook are becoming more and more alike, which is probably bad news if you went to Nextdoor to avoid Facebook, or vice versa.