The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol had right-wing extremists and conspiracy groups like QAnon at the center of the violence. But moderators at Nextdoor, a neighborhood-based social network, have been sounding the alarm to the company about the growing number of QAnon groups on the platform since at least last October. Nextdoor took months to respond, finally sending a message to moderators five days after the violent insurrection in Washington, D.C. In their late response, Nextdoor simply referred moderators to its policy on COVID-19 and election misinformation, which has no guidance about incitement of violence or fear, leaving moderators without a way to protect their communities.
As we know—and saw just a few days ago at the Capitol—white supremacy is violent online and offline. Nextdoor feeds this violence by allowing QAnon on its platform. If Nextdoor truly cares about community well-being, it will ban QAnon content in public and private groups, and set up content moderation policies that explicitly target white supremacy and racism.
According to Vox, calls from Nextdoor moderators for an outright ban on QAnon have been growing since January 6. Nextdoor now says—privately—that it views QAnon as a hate group. Yet, the company has no plans to make that hardly courageous opinion public.
Unfortunately, Nextdoor's racism problem doesn't start or end with QAnon. After the police murder of George Floyd, Nextdoor put out a statement saying, "Black lives matter," and "Everyone should feel safe in their neighborhood." But Black and brown Nextdoor users felt that Nextdoor actually enabled racial profiling and allowed moderators to take down content that supported the Black Lives Matter movement.
With that history, it's no surprise that right-wing conspiracy groups are flourishing on Nextdoor.
Other platforms. including Twitter, which suspended over 70,000 QAnon-linked accounts, are taking the threat of QAnon seriously. By doing nothing, Nextdoor is helping hate groups spread online lies and incite offline violence in thousands of neighborhoods. Nextdoor needs to know that its negligence is dangerous and damaging to both democracy and the company itself.