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Racial Profiling Claims Lead to Changes for Nextdoor App

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SACRAMENTO -- It's the way neighbors are doing everything from planning yard sales to warning of predators.

The online site is Nextdoor, and about 2,100 Sacramento neighborhoods are using it to stay on top of community news. But some racially charged controversy is leading to changes on the site, and Sacramento users will be some of the first to test out a proposed solution.

If you’re not familiar with the site, it's an online, neighborhood exclusive, community forum. Think Craigslist, Facebook, and a 24/7 neighborhood watch meeting all rolled into one.

One of the features is a crime alert allowing neighbors to post about suspicious activity in their area, warning other residents. But the content in some posts has caused some controversy and allegations of racial profiling. Some saying some posts simply list a person’s race and label their behavior as suspicious.

To combat vague posts that refer to a person’s race but give no specific identifying details about their appearance or suspicious activity, Nextdoor administrators have put in place new posting guidelines.

In a statement to FOX40 they said in part:

"Nextdoor's mission is to build stronger and safer neighborhoods and racial profiling is obviously completely counter to that mission. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that the conversations on Nextdoor remain constructive and neighborly.”

Instead of being able to post instantly, Sacramento is one of the test areas where users will now see a mandatory warning screen about racial profiling before posting in the "Crime and Safety" category and new forms asking users to describe only truly suspicious behavior and include a full description of the individual. Reaction to the change is mixed.

“I think that’s just common sense," said Nextdoor user Carolyn Cooper.

“It takes a little longer, but we’re not the police, we don’t have to have that same response,” Michelle Bucknell said.

“It’s going to take more time, I don’t think people are going to be willing to spend the extra effort,” Nextdoor user Mathew Lee said.

Nextdoor is testing out these new procedures in a few areas including Sacramento, with plans to expand the changes to all cities in the summer.

Both the Sacramento police and the sheriff's departments tell FOX40 they use the site to post information to specific communities. However, they don't expect the changes to affect how they operate.