Facebook has been on a roll lately and continues with Neighborhoods. It has created competing versions of practically every popular online social application to emerge in recent years. In fairness, it’s often better to be second to market in the tech world. For example, MySpace was around for a year before Facebook launched in 2004.
The latest example of Facebook’s fast follower strategy is Neighborhoods. It’s a new feature inside Facebook’s mobile app that bears a strong resemblance to Nextdoor. That’s the social network where suburbanites report coyote sightings and also yell at each other about messy front lawns and barking dogs (which some neighbors doubtless hope will be attacked by said coyotes).
After all, Nextdoor is an incredibly popular service. It has about 27 million monthly active users across about 250,000 neighborhoods. It’s also a great lead source for local services pros.
Here’s how Facebook describes Neighborhoods.
“Neighborhoods is a dedicated space within the Facebook app designed to help you connect with your neighbors, participate in your local community and discover new places nearby.”
In order to join Neighborhoods, users must be at least 18 and verify their neighborhood. Users can join theirs or nearby neighborhoods to interact with neighbors. Or they can join and interact with local groups and discover local businesses. Neighborhoods includes a “Recommendations” feature “to get suggestions from your local community. Also, the Neighborhoods Favorite Polls allow neighbors to vote on their favorite places and businesses in the area, including restaurants, parks, and more.”
Keeping Things Kind
Facebook, perhaps with Nextdoor’s moderation challenges in mind, addressed its moderation and safety policy in the blog post announcing Neighborhoods.
“Neighborhoods have moderators who use these Guidelines to review posts and comments in the Neighborhoods feed. If a post or comment appears to go against the Neighborhoods Guidelines, moderators can take action by hiding the post, which will then be reviewed by Facebook Community Operations. If the post violates Facebook Community Standards, the post will be removed from Neighborhoods. You can also report a post or comment to a Neighborhoods moderator or via Facebook’s reporting tool if you believe it doesn’t follow the Guidelines or Facebook’s Community Standards.”
As for privacy on Neighborhoods, Facebook notes that it is an opt-in experience. Once you do opt-in, privacy is about what you would expect from Facebook in general.
“Your activity and information in Neighborhoods may be used to personalize your experience across Facebook Products, including ads you may see. This means that your activity on Facebook may influence what you see in Neighborhoods, and your activity in Neighborhoods may influence what you see elsewhere on Facebook Products.”
Climbing into the Clubhouse
So Neighborhoods is just the latest example of Facebook answering a popular competing product or feature with its own version. Here are a few recent examples:
Instagram Reels (Facebook owns Instagram) is a clear answer to the wildly popular short-form video app TikTok.
Workplace. This is Facebook’s answer to Teams, Slack, Zoom in the workplace collaboration space.
Unnamed Clubhouse Competitor. Facebook announced in April it was rolling out a product suite under the umbrella of “social audio”. This was widely seen as an answer to Clubhouse. In case you haven’t heard of it, that’s the popular live audio app popular in media and tech circles that reportedly has a $4 billion valuation with no real revenue model.
So as an aside, check out this Twitter thread from tech investor Shaan Purl if you’re up for an interesting critique of Clubhouse.
So… everyone seems to think clubhouse is the "next big thing" – but I think it's going to fail.
Here's how I think it all goes down..
— Shaan Puri (@ShaanVP) March 16, 2021