Facebook testing 'Nextdoor'-like feature called Neighborhoods

'More than ever, people are using Facebook to participate in their local communities,' a spokesperson said

Facebook on Wednesday confirmed that the company is testing a new feature called Neighborhoods, similar to Nextdoor.

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Nextdoor is an online network for neighbors to keep each other updated on local events and happenings; it helps those living in specific neighborhoods stay up-to-date with instances of crime, local events and other relevant news.

“More than ever, people are using Facebook to participate in their local communities," a Facebook 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.”

The social media giant said it is testing the feature in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, before rolling it out on a larger scale in order to get feedback from users.

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The Neighborhoods feature will appear on the left side of the platform's homepage by other features including Facebook Groups, Pages, Friends, Marketplace, Events and so on, according to tech news website TechCrunch, which first reported on the new feature, calling it a "Nextdoor clone."

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The app allows users to connect with neighbors and stay up to date on neighborhood occurrences, according to a screenshot of the new feature that social media commentator Matt Navara posted to Twitter.

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Unlike Nextdoor, however, on which admins run local groups, Facebook will generate and suggest different groups on the Neighborhoods feature for users, according to TechCrunch, citing screenshots of the feature in a Facebook post from internet marketing service Gregg Digital.

Users also have to give Facebook more permissions to certain data such as location but can turn off location-sharing "at any time," the screenshots show.

Facebook will then suggest neighborhood groups to users based on location and present users with a set of ground rules to follow; users can also invite others to join neighborhood groups.

Ground rules include being inclusive of other neighbors, being kind, keeping commentary local, keeping vulgar or inflammatory comments out of the group and sharing valuable information rather than spam posts.

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Users will be able to create Neighborhood bios that include descriptions and photos of themselves, should they chose to add them.

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Facebook has more than 2.7 billion global users, including 1.8 billion Facebook Group users, according to TechCrunch. The Neighborhoods app is expected to increase user interest in Facebook-based online groups as the network moves toward a more community-based experience.