So while my readers are likely well aware of the fact that I'm no longer on Twitter and Facebook, none of you probably knew that I was also on Nextdoor.com. It wasn't a big deal though. I was only involved in an effort to keep up on happenings in the local neighborhood and I never shared any content there. For those of you not in the know, Nextdoor is basically a social networking site subdivided up by communities and subdivisions.
A few weeks ago, a neighbor of mine named Michael Meehan posted and explained that he had discovered that a registered sex offender was living in our neighborhood. He provided a full link to the individuals profile on the sex offender registry but even went so far as to measure the distance between the mans house and the school up the street in an effort to determine whether or not he was violating any proximity related laws. He went so far as to contact the local police department at least twice over the matter.
I pushed back. Not only do I feel that devices like registries are bullshit to begin with, but the sex offender registries are especially egregious as there are an insane number of stupid ways that people can end up on one. The details of these numerous instances are pretty well documented, so I'm not bothering to link to any of them. Michael of course didn't care for this. But soon the thread was forgotten and we all moved on.
Until about a week later that is. Michael decided to post a diatribe/reminder regarding community guidelines on how people should conduct themselves. One of those guidelines was a directive indicating that people should not publicly shame their neighbors on the site. I pushed back and pointed out how Michael himself violated this specific guideline just last week. He responded to tell me that I was wrong and that I should drop it. I ended the conversation by asking the neighborhood whether or not we were content to follow rules set by an individual who was clearly unwilling to conduct himself within the boundaries of those rules.
Sometime afterwards I received an email from Ryan at Nextdoor explaining that my posts had been deleted due to the fact that they had violated the community guidelines regarding publicly shaming your neighbors. Wow. The irony here was certainly rich. Here is the specific post of mine that he took issue with:
I guess the real question here is: Does Michael Meehan set the standards for how our neighborhood conducts its business in a public forum such as this or does the neighborhood as a whole get to set the standard? My vote is for the later especially given the fact that Michael clearly has no intention of following his own rules.Here is what Ryan had to say about it:
I understand it can be frustrating when a neighbor acts in a way that you find inappropriate or offensive. However, Nextdoor is not a place to publicly shame your neighbors. When conversations become heated, we ask that members remember our overarching principle: “Everyone here is your neighbor. Please treat each other with respect.”So of course I responded. But before I did so, I took the time to deactivate my account. Having legitimate content deleted is something I'm not willing to tolerate under any circumstance.
If you see a neighbor you know doing something that concerns you, please contact them directly via private message rather than posting about it in the main newsfeed.
If you don’t know the person and you’re concerned about a safety issue in your neighborhood, you may post about it, but please remember to do so in a civil and respectful way. Visit our Help Center for more information on how to post your Crime & Safety message to help everyone in your neighborhood stay safe.
Due to this Guideline violation, we have removed the offending comments from the thread.
Ryan,...and that is that. What can you do? If this how my neighbors and Nextdoor choose to conduct their business, there is very little that I can do to change their mind. I can however choose to no longer participate in an exercise that is clearly sowing the seeds of distaste and malcontent among the community. So that is precisely what I have done. For anybody who is interested, I've preserved the contents of the original sex offender conversation while censoring the appropriate bits and pieces. You can view it here if you are interested.
I have to be honest. Your community guidelines are not only questionable in their nature but they are also being enforced poorly in this instance.
If that post constitutes public shaming, then I strongly encourage you to view the post Micahel made when he discovered that there was a registered sex offender living in our subdivision. Not only did he out the man without any actual knowledge of the circumstances leading to his inclusion on the registry, but he then proceeded to call the local police department over the matter at least twice. He chronicled this abhorent behavior pubicly on your site in the main news feed for our community. This is the behavior that I was calling him out over as it is in direct violation of the community guidelines that he and you both claim to be interested in enforcing.
Now unlike yourselves and Michael, I'm not interested in having this content removed. I think people ought to be allowed to have actual conversations free from the would-be nannies and meter maids of the internet, such as yourself. I also believe that people like Michael ought to be free to make asses of themselves online so that other future members can do the research and discover what kind of person he really is. No offense intended. Mostly. Nevertheless, I have deactivated my account. This experience has taught me a couple of things and surprise, I feel like sharing them with you.
 Michael Meehan is a busy body. Thank Christ we don't have an HOA because he would be a pestilience from hell there.
 Nextdoor.com, like larger social networks, claims that it wants to foster open communication, but in reality they are more interested in harvesting the data generated by our interactions and our mobile devices rather than making an actual effort to foster anything that even remotely resembles a healthy community.
Now I realize that you can't do anything to address either criticism. But I think its important to note that I, like others, am completely unwilling to tolerate pendantic forms of censorship. The deletion of my reasonable and profanity free posts represents the crossing of a line that cannot be uncrossed in my mind. If Michael and Nextdoor.com are so threatened by valid and legitimate criticisms such as the ones that I leveled at Michael, then the enterprise serves no actual purpose and it is time for me to move on.
I appreciate the fact that you took the time to let me know that my posts were deleted however. That of course is why I'm taking the time to personally respond to you.
It really disheartens me to see the large and widespread failure of social networking in general. But hey don't just take my word for it. Here is how a former Facebook exec feels about the issue. Pretty discouraging eh? You bet your ass it is. The sad truth is that social networks aren't elevating our conversations and improving communication but instead bending over backwards to cater to the lowest common denominator whenever possible.
Can this situation be improved? I honestly don't know. While I'm still on Mastodon, the reality is that I'm essentially a social network outcast now. The likelihood of Mastodon hitting critical mass is pretty slim. This is of course why I've been posting a lot more content to my actual website lately. Of course this medium has the distinct advantage of allowing me to spend as much or as little time as I want to on a particular topic, so it isn't all bad.