Facebook confirmed the feature to Bloomberg. “More than ever, people are using Facebook to participate in their local communities,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “To help make it easier to do this, we are rolling out a limited test of Neighborhoods, a dedicated space within Facebook for people to connect with their neighbors.”
If Facebook releases the feature widely it could take a bite out of Nextdoor, which serves a quarter of US neighborhoods and 268,000 in total around the world. That app lets folks inform nearby residents about events, sell goods and, more controversially, post about loud parties, crimes, etc. The company recently pulled a “forward to police” feature amid concerns over racist abuse.
Facebook’s Neighborhoods feature could allow the social network to display hyper-local ads and gather more data on users, judging by the screenshots seen so far. However, the social network is currently under investigation by the US FTC and DoJ for alleged antitrust behavior, and is also being probed in Europe over privacy concerns.
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