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AppSnap: Nextdoor helps neighbors connect online

FARGO-I have Facebook to keep up with friends and family, Twitter to get the latest news and Instagram to share photos and videos with followers. Now, I have Nextdoor to figure out who lives in that house down the street. The free and private soc...

Sample screenshot of Nextdoor, a free and private social network for neighborhoods. Photo credit: Nextdoor
Sample screenshot of Nextdoor, a free and private social network for neighborhoods. Photo credit: Nextdoor

FARGO-I have Facebook to keep up with friends and family, Twitter to get the latest news and Instagram to share photos and videos with followers. Now, I have Nextdoor to figure out who lives in that house down the street. The free and private social network is similar to Facebook at first glance. A stream of the latest comments and posts pops up in chronological order, while other tabs offer features like a map of the neighborhood, a list of upcoming events and local classified ads or missing pet updates. But it goes beyond Facebook and becomes a useful new tool because of its private nature. Nextdoor can be used on a computer, though I opted to download the free iPhone app. I had to enter some basic information-my name, address and how long I've lived in my house-and then had a few ways to verify I actually live at that address. The reason for this personal information becomes clear with the first use: The network used my address to determine my neighborhood, then added me into that neighborhood to give me location-specific updates on what's going on around me. This one app has become a way to keep up with my little slice of north Fargo. I heard about a neighborhood meeting through Nextdoor, and while I missed that meeting, I read my neighbors' comments about it the next morning. I've seen people post about strange or suspicious sounds they heard, ask for help in locating a missing dog and even just say hi to the strangers they'd never talked with in person before signing up.

Sample screenshot of Nextdoor, a free and private social network for neighborhoods. Photo credit: Nextdoor
Sample screenshot of Nextdoor, a free and private social network for neighborhoods. Photo credit: Nextdoor

Because my neighborhood has recently been affected by a few high-profile crimes, my Nextdoor feed often is a stream of users complaining about a problematic rental house and tensions with neighbors. Still, I appreciate getting a better sense of what's happening and gaining a way of easily communicating with relative strangers who share a common interest because of our location. The Fargo Police Department has promoted Nextdoor in recent months, encouraging residents to sign up and get connected with their neighborhoods, and I've seen frequent posts from the police with helpful tips and reminders of upcoming events. As more of us join Nextdoor, I can't help but think we'll all start thinking and behaving a little more neighborly-even if it's just through the screens of our smartphones and computers. Rating: 5 out of 5

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