Social Media Site Helps Neighbors Protect Their Community

(Memphis) More than 80 neighborhoods in the Memphis metro area are using a social media website called Nextdoor.com to create a sense of community, by doing everything from posting events to preventing crime.

The website also has an accompanying iPhone application, where users can talk to their neighbors about lost pets, homes for rent or suspicious activity down the street.

The site only approves users whose addresses are verified. Once a person signs up, the site will either place a call to a landline attached to the address or send a postcard by mail with a special code to make sure the user actually lives there.

Members in one neighborhood network cannot see activity in another network.

“There’s a lot of privacy issues with Facebook that people are concerned with, and I think NextDoor.com completely eliminates that,” said Laura Gaither, one of the “leads” of the Garden Meadows network on Nextdoor.com.

Garden Meadows in Bartlett recently saw a robbery, which was quickly communicated via the website.

“Within two hours, everybody knew about it,” Gaither said.

The real-time interaction is so quick, that minutes after News Channel 3 left the neighborhood, someone posted “anyone know why the news van is at the end of the street”?

Gaither said this beats the old-school flyers she used to send out.

In Memphis, Verlinda Henning said that her East Buntyn neighborhood near Central and Highland has become more cohesive because of Nextdoor.com.

She said it’s like having conversations on the front porch in the modern era.

“You’re leaning over the fence, but it’s with this,” Henning said.

Henning said she also likes the fact that people must use their real names.

“You’d be Natasha, I’d be Verlinda. And when you post under your own name, you tend to be more diplomatic,” she said.

More than half of the 525 households in her community are using Nextdoor.com.

Police departments in Shelby County told News Channel 3 they encourage neighbor interaction through Nextdoor.com, but they do not monitor posts. So, if anything happens, residents still need to call police.

Nextdoor.com is free for members. A spokesperson said that, eventually, they may have local businesses advertise on the site.

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