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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Facebook rolls out new 'Neighborhood' feature in Wilmington. What does the battle against misinformation look like on the local scale?

Facebook's new 'Neighborhoods' feature hopes that local moderators will help tamp down misinformation that's harder to catch.
Facebook's new 'Neighborhoods' feature hopes that local moderators will help tamp down misinformation that's harder to catch.

Facebook is rolling out Neighborhoods in about 130 cities this fall. The feature asks users for a one-time location check and then matches them with their local community — not unlike other geo-fenced apps like NextDoor, that group users into more small groups based on where they live.

And, like those other apps, Neighborhoods will face the issue of misinformation.

Fact-checking content is a constant battle for all social media companies. But, when it comes to global or national issues that affect a lot of people — say, Covid-19, or presidential and congressional elections — the same guidelines can be used for a lot of content.

But happens when there’s potential misinformation at a much more granular level — for example, about decisions affecting one of the nation’s nearly 20,000 towns and cities?

According to Neighborhood Product Manager Reid Patton, Facebook is going to lean into local moderation.

"We've built a really in depth moderation system, where moderators are invested in the well being of neighborhoods to keep the space safe, civil in kind by moderating post and comments using our neighborhood guidelines," Patton said.

Facebook hopes that multiple moderators, and its pre-existing tools for content screening, will help keep the misinformation at bay. Time will tell if they’re successful.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature.