Marc Calderwood, like many other residents in the Paradise Terrace neighborhood of Albuquerque, originally turned to the Nextdoor app for area recommendations and community conversation but recently found out his neighbors are using the app for something more serious — to report crime.
“We’re done with this [theft], we have got to take some action,” Calderwood said.
Calderwood says he has been the victim of theft twice in the past two months, which prompted him and his fellow neighbors to take step up their online sharing.
“Everytime you talk to somebody, something suspicious has happened,” Calderwood said. “Our effort is going to be forming a neighborhood watch.”
Nextdoor is a free, private social network for neighborhoods, founded in 2010. According to the website, the mission of the app is “that neighbors everywhere will use the Nextdoor platform to build stronger and safer neighborhoods around the world.”
Calderwood says helping create a stronger and safer neighborhood is one reason why he decided to use the app to share his incident.
“It’s a great app. I’ve used it for a number of things from selling stuff or giving things away to this [reporting crime],” Calderwood said.
A post like Calderwood’s is not uncommon on the app but stands out next to others. Posts range from a resident alerting her neighbors about skunks to a post about Winnie, the lost terrier mix.
Nextdoor representative Danielle Styskal says founders wanted to do more than just create a social network to connect people.
“There were a variety of social networks to connect us with friends, family, professional contacts and people who share our interests,” Styskal said. “But nothing existed to connect us with the most important community in all of our lives: where we live. Nextdoor was created to change that.”
Styskal says crime and safety concerns were not a driving force for Nextdoor founders but found it was one of a variety of things neighbors could talk about on the platform.
“There are 746 neighborhoods across the greater Albuquerque area using Nextdoor, representing 85 percent of the city’s neighborhoods,” Styskal said.
Steve Sink, Crime Prevention Manager with the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) says, if used correctly, the app could be useful to Albuquerque residents.
“I think anyway to communicate is a good thing and the Nextdoor app is yet another opportunity for information sharing,” Sink said.
Although Sink says Nextdoor is useful, APD discourages any type of excessive sharing of information on any social media site as it might lead to a huge mistake.
“It’s like any other social media site. That’s not information you want out to the general public,” Sink said. “You think everyone viewing that post is trustworthy and you’re not worried about them but then how do you know?”
Sink says people sharing crime experiences do not always convey facts and may even raise suspicions on innocent people. Moreover, inaccurate information has the potential to be shared, reposted and relayed many times on Nextdoor.
“I think sometimes people might share what they’ve heard from somebody else and then it becomes second, third, fourth hand information. Which leads to that inefficiency in accuracy,” Sink said.
Sink says APD uses crimemapping.com as a resource and suggests residents use it too, since it has a more accurate number of reported crimes in a specific area.
“We send people if they’re looking for crimes in their neighborhood to crimemapping.com. It’s a more efficient way to look at criminal activity,” Sink said.
Regardless of what social network residents use to share neighborly information, Sink says Nextdoor encourages neighbors to always use discretion when posting anything online.
APD’s Twitter feed offers a similar message:
It’s great for sharing info with neighbors but beware the wrong ? may be trolling a page. So be ⚠️ about what’s posted on any public page https://t.co/pXcFlCtdod
— Albuquerque Police (@ABQPOLICE) March 7, 2017
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