Plagued by a rash of racial profiling posts popping up on its website, the neighborhood social networking platform Nextdoor has launched a new tool to combat the hateful messages directed at people of color.
The San Francisco-based company's new feature, which uses an algorithm-based system to report crime and safety concerns, prevents users from simply typing a vague complaint - with potentially biased language - into a blank text box. Instead, users will be forced to provide a slew of specific descriptions, such as age, clothing, shoes, body build and more when it comes to describing a suspect in a neighborhood crime or safety concern, according to Nextdoor CEO and co-founder Nirav Tolia.
Although Tolia believes that most of the racial profiling posts were inadvertent, he hopes that the new feature will prevent such episodes from happening again.
"We are asking (users) to stop and think before (they) post," he said.
East Bay Express first reported in 2015 that Nextdoor was being stricken with racist-toned accusations directed toward people of color. For example, suspicious activity complaints were filed against black people and Latinos for simply "walking down the street, driving a car, or knocking on a door," with race being the only describing factor in the post, East Bay Express reported.
Tolia said that the company worked with community groups, the Oakland Police Department and city leaders to halt those forms of racial profiling.
"We had a moral obligation to do something about it," Tolia said.
Since installing a beta program and slowly rolling out the new feature at the beginning of the summer, Tolia claims that racial profiling instances have decreased by 75 percent.