Facebook is working on a new ‘Neighborhoods’ feature for the service that aims at connecting users that live close by and for them to socialize within their locality. The feature is supposedly being aimed as a rival offering to services like Nextdoor, which is currently eyeing a $5 billion IPO.
While some leaked screenshots of the feature made it to Twitter back in May, the social networking giant has confirmed to Bloomberg that it is indeed testing the feature in a limited capacity in Calgary, Canada. “More than ever, people are using Facebook to participate in their local communities,” said a spokesperson in a statement to the publication, adding that the Neighborhoods feature is a “dedicated space within Facebook for people to connect with their neighbors”.
Social media consultant Matt Navarra shared some screenshots of the feature on Twitter, providing some insight into the setup process and the feature itself. The app confirms users’ location to set their locality and a profile, after which it offers posts, groups, and content from other users in the neighborhood. Interestingly, Navarra adds that users can create profiles for other users to see even if they are not their Facebook friends.
With Neighborhoods, Facebook aims to bring more private conversations between users of a community, something it has been working on through private groups and the like. However, the firm reminds users through the setup process that all its Community Standards are applicable in Neighborhoods as well, prompting users to be “inclusive”, “kind”, and “clean”. Users are also offered dedicated privacy options for their Neighborhoods, with the option to also switch between or leave these groups altogether.
It will be interesting to see how the company evolves the feature and expands it to more regions. With close to two billion active users monthly, the adoption of such a feature could be much quicker than that of other smaller companies. The impact on rivals like Nextdoor that offer a “private social network” will also be interesting to keep an eye on.