Meta today confirmed it’s shutting down Neighborhoods, its Nextdoor clone launched last year to standardize the way neighbors connect and share local news and information on Facebook. While typically, neighbors on Facebook have been using the company’s Facebook Groups product to post updates with their local community, the Neighborhoods project had involved special features, like sub-profiles for members and appointed moderators who would review comments and posts, among other things.
The company said it initially invested in Neighborhoods because it saw how popular local content was on its platform. But ultimately, Facebook realized the best way to move forward in this area was to allow people to continue to use Facebook Groups, as they had been doing.
First quietly tested in Calgary, Canada in 2020, before more officially rolling out across in Canada and the U.S. last year, Neighborhoods had allowed users to create special profiles which they could populate with custom bios and their interests.
The product’s arrival — not coincidentally, we’d wager — was timed just ahead of Nextdoor’s public debut. The longtime neighborhood social network had combined with a SPAC in November 2021, and Neighborhoods could have served to dampen investors’ appetite for the newly-public company.
Nextdoor took on the challenge with updates to its own product shortly after Facebook’s entry into its market. Earlier this year, Nextdoor doubled down on the social elements of its product with an update that revamped its service with new user profiles, a redesigned feed focused on conversations, a visual refresh, and other community-building features.
The closure of Facebook Neighborhoods was first spotted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who posted a screenshot sent to him from a Facebook Group where a product manager had announced the company’s plans to wind down the test. The post noted Neighborhoods had expanded into “hundreds of local communities” across the U.S. and Canada but would no longer be available as of October 1st.
Facebook’s decision to move away from local content comes at a time when the company is putting more focus on becoming a recommendation and discovery engine for content, as it ramps up its competition with TikTok. This new discovery engine driving the change is focused on surfacing more content from public communities — not necessarily the private groups that would have been found in a feature in Neighborhoods.