Sunday, June 14, 2020

Nextdoor tells community leads to allow Black Lives Matter discussions after exposé

After widespread outcry over racist moderation systems, Nextdoor is reshaping its policies on how its communities deal with discussions of racial justice.

In an email sent to community leads on Thursday and obtained by The Verge, Nextdoor specifically directed leads to allow discussions of the broader Movement for Black Lives. “To be clear, conversations related to racial inequality and black lives matter are allowed on Nextdoor,” the company told community leads. “At the same time, it is vital that all conversations remain civil — regardless of the topic.”

The company also promised to onboard new leads as a way of representing more perspectives from a given area. “We need to ensure that all neighborhoods have Leads that bring perspectives that reflect the full diversity of the neighborhood,” the email explained.

Serving as moderators of individual communities, leads have been at the forefront of recent conflicts over discussion of racial justice issues on the platform — often with little clear guidance from the company’s leadership. But these latest moves may clear up some of those uncertainties, providing explicit directives on how to handle sensitive topics and pledging more resources to come.

The worldwide protests against police violence have brought out the worst in some Nextdoor communities. The company itself nominally supports Black Lives Matter, but recent reporting from The Verge and Buzzfeed, among others, revealed a messier struggle as specific communities pushed back against protest announcements, and broad hostility to discussions of racial justice made many black users feel unwelcome.

But in a public blog post on Thursday, Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar pledged to provide more explicit guidelines on how to moderate against racism. Explicit racism is already forbidden under the platform’s Community Guidelines, but there has been little guidance on how to navigate the more subtle issues raised by recent protests.

“We will better educate our neighbors on what is — and is not — allowed on our platform, drawing a firm line against racist behavior and removing comments and members who violate the rules,” Friar said in the post.

That effort will include a stronger approach to community moderation — specifically against racist comments or behavior. Friar also promised to provide more resources and support to Leads who “work to maintain civil and productive conversations on Nextdoor.”

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