Facebook’s latest move could be to get to know its neighbors.
The company confirmed this week that tests a new function which encourages users to post and share news on social networks focused on smaller geographical areas.
Users can create special profiles that share limited information with their neighbors, while Facebook will use the detailed location data it collects from subscribers to run “more relevant” ads – because that’s what you wanted, isn’t it? so?
A smaller and more personal network
The feature, called Neighborhoods, is currently being tested in only one market, Calgary, Canada, but Facebook is likely to launch access on a larger scale if the test is successful.
Screenshots of the Neighborhoods feature were shared on Twitter by social networking consultant Matt Navarra, while an earlier version of the feature was seen in May by Jane Manchun Wong.
A Facebook spokesman confirmed the test to Bloomberg, saying: “More than ever, people are using Facebook to participate in their local communities. To make this easier, we are launching a limited neighborhood test, a dedicated space on Facebook for people to connect with their neighbors. ”
Screenshots shared by Navarra shows the integration process, Facebook users being asked to “connect with neighbors”.
Users must confirm the location to match their area and then create a limited profile that can be viewed by those nearby, even if they are not Facebook friends.
A welcome screen for this feature tells users to remember five rules: “be inclusive”, “be kind”, “keep it local”, “keep it clean” and “share valuable information”.
Users can invite friends to join and be asked to answer questions about their neighborhood and share pictures. Navarra reports that users can leave or change neighborhoods at any time.
A focus on neighborhoods would match Facebook’s slow movement toward smaller communities. In recent years, the company has placed more emphasis on private and public groups, as opposed to more open sharing of wider circles of friends of users.
This change of strategy has been controversial. Facebook critics say its new focus on groups has amplified a number of unpleasant trends, from the rise of the anti-vax movement to militias using Facebook groups to incite violence.
The moderation of these groups required more effort than Facebook is willing to do, and the same harmful dynamics could easily be repeated in neighborhood-focused enclaves. Nextdoor, for example, has been repeatedly criticized for accidentally favoring racism on its platform, and Facebook’s history does not suggest it could avoid similar toxicity.