As if local news publishers don't have enough to worry about, the neighborhood-focused social-media app Nextdoor may be becoming a bigger source of hyperlocal news and information. But it's still
difficult to measure the potential threat without more usage data about the Nextdoor's website and app.
Anecdotally, Nextdoor is becoming a forum for discussion about local issues
that in many ways are more important than what happens in Washington, according to a story last week by OneZero
, the technology and culture site published by Medium.
Reporter Will Oremus describes how Nextdoor is becoming a force in local politics, such as a failed referendum to raise taxes to help close a funding gap for a school district in Delaware.
Proponents of the measures weren't prepared to counter misinformation that residents shared on Nextdoor.
The story suggests that Nextdoor is a microcosm for similar concerns
about the deleterious effect of misinformation on a national scale. Former President Trump tweeted relentlessly about a stolen election, though numerous lawsuits filed on his behalf failed to provide
evidence of widespread fraud. Still, surveys indicate many people in his media bubble believe his claims.
Unlike Twitter, Nextdoor doesn't provide a centralized news feed that
gives people a chance to respond to misinformation. To be admitted into one of its neighborhoods, Nextdoor requires a proof of residency, such as a cellphone number that can be matched with an address
or an invitation code sent by mail. What is said among members of a neighborhood is mostly contained within a small region.
That limited scope is useful when asking neighbors
for tips on local services. However, Oremus' report suggests that local newspapers are better suited for providing more impartial information. As with any political debate, a balanced account of both
sides is more useful than a one-sided rant or vague retelling of facts. In that respect, local newspapers can provide the context that's lacking on Nextdoor.