What is happening
Nextdoor reminds users to have constructive conversations if a comment thread is likely to heat up.
Why it matters
The new feature is an example of how social media is trying to get users to re-evaluate whether they want to post an offensive comment.
The new reminder is being released in the United States today, but is expected to be released internationally.
Nextdoor, a social media app that connects neighbors, wants its users to think twice before posting a bad comment during a heated conversation.
On Tuesday, Nextdoor said it was releasing a new reminder of constructive talks in the United States, which would encourage neighbors to respond with empathetic comments if the conversation is likely to provoke controversy. The reminder tells users to find common ground, to challenge the idea, not the person, and to identify clear actions that neighbors can take. Nextdoor hopes the reminder will reduce the amount of negativity on the social media platform, where people discuss hot issues such as politics and crime. The company plans to release the reminder internationally next quarter.
The reminder is based on other tools that Nextdoor has released to encourage neighbors to be kind to each other online. In 2019, the company issued a kind reminder warning users if they are invited to post a comment that is similar to previously reported content, giving users the opportunity to edit their response. Nextdoor will also notify users if they are invited to post racist remarks.
Like other social networks, Nextdoor is fighting complaints of racism and harassment on its platform. Social networks are trying to improve the moderation of content, as civil rights activists, politicians and others are pressuring them to do more to deal with online content, which can lead to real damage. At the same time, conservatives say their content is censored, allegations that social media denies.
Billionaire Elon Musk, who runs Tesla and SpaceX, struck a deal last week to buy Twitter for $ 44 billion because he believes the company is not doing enough to protect freedom of speech. However, the First Amendment does not prohibit companies from restricting speech. The deal sparked a debate about what social media companies should do to improve content moderation.
Moderate content in Nextdoor
Nextdoor has rules about what users can’t post on the social media app, such as scams, child pornography and hate speech. Unlike Twitter, Nextdoor also checks the user’s address and requires neighbors to provide their real names. The social media site relies on more than 230,000 volunteer community moderators to vote in groups on whether a post violates Nextdoor’s rules. This means that content removal may vary by neighborhood. Cursing, for example, may be more acceptable in New York than in other cities, Kiran Prasad, product manager at Nextdoor, said in an interview.
“We really believe that community moderation is the way we should go … because the nuances of different environments allow it. To say that the whole of the United States must work in one way is, in my opinion, simply wrong, “Prasad said.
Nextdoor uses voting data to train its machine learning models, where computers learn and adapt to new information without being explicitly programmed. This helps Nextdoor to predict whether the user is about to post an offensive remark or the conversation is likely to become controversial, which causes the platform to display reminders to users.
Using signals such as keywords, the speed at which people comment, and the user’s past behavior, Nextdoor can predict whether a comment thread is likely to heat up.
Prasad said the company has already succeeded with reminders of kindness. In 2021, Nextdoor said in a transparency report that neighbors who received a reminder of kindness edited or withheld their post or comment on average more than 34% of the time.
Prasad said the company would also show lower content in its feed if in dispute.
“We are not committed at all costs, so we will lower this content, even if it is controversial, and … make people more committed. We want to make sure we are a friendly platform above all else, “he said.
Nextdoor said it is also trying to be more transparent about how it moderates content. Users around the world will also receive an in-app notification via email if their post or comment is removed, along with an explanation and appeal. Previously, Nextdoor users could now appeal the decision, but were not notified of the removed content.