The United States is in the midst of a reckoning with racism and policing. At the same time, an array of neighborhood-based social platforms — like Nextdoor and Neighbors by Ring — purport to keep American neighborhoods safer by partnering with local police. But often, these platforms and partnerships deepen division rather than quelling it.
Complicating this problem is a startling lack of transparency. For example, Nextdoor does not provide the public with clear, easy to find information about how police use their platform, nor has it assessed how such police partnerships are impacting communities. This leaves Nextdoor unaccountable for potential harmful policing outcomes enabled by the platform.
Today, fresh research commissioned by Mozilla and conducted by YouGov provides insight into how Americans perceive the partnerships between police and platforms like Nextdoor and Neighbors. (Mozilla has launched a petition urging Nextdoor to immediately pause police partnerships until they achieve more transparency, and another petition calling on Amazon Ring to stop sharing information with police.)
Says Kaili Lambe, Senior U.S. Campaigner at Mozilla: “Our polling reveals that Nextdoor and Neighbors are influential platforms in American neighborhoods, and that they raise serious concerns about racism and public safety. We learned that a substantial number of users have qualms about the platforms’ police partnerships. We also learned that white Americans and Black Americans view these platforms and partnerships differently.”
Lambe continues: “In recent years, we’ve seen how specific product features and lack of oversight on internet platforms — from Facebook to YouTube — can harm communities of color. It’s time to broaden our scrutiny of platforms to include ones like Nextdoor and Neighbors, which enable increased police surveillance in American neighborhoods.”
Kaili Lambe, Senior U.S. Campaigner, Mozilla
Nextdoor is the second most popular online platform Americans use to communicate with neighbors (17%), nearly tied with Facebook groups (18%).
Nearly one quarter (23%) of those who use online platforms to connect with their neighbors are concerned about racist posts and messages. Nearly one fifth (19%) are concerned about the platforms sharing information with police.
31% of Black Americans who use these platforms are concerned about the platforms sharing information with police, compared to just 14% of white Americans.
26% of Black Americans who use these platforms feel less safe sharing information when they know that police partnerships exist, compared to just 14% of white Americans.
88% of Americans believe Nextdoor and Neighbors should be more transparent about how they work with police. 58% percent of both Nextdoor and Neighbors users think platforms should provide full transparency into their partnerships with police.
32% of Neighbors users are concerned about platforms sharing information with police, compared to 17% of Nextdoor users.
20% of Americans think these platforms should not work with police at all.
Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 5232 US adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th - 28th August 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).