OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A popular San Francisco-based website meant for neighborhood groups across the country to share recommendations on dog-sitters or pass along used baby clothes said it is stepping up efforts to block people from using the tool for racial profiling.
Residents of racially diverse Oakland say the website that allows communities to trade tips and build ties online also has been used as a platform to single out black people and other minorities without cause. People on the site warn of "suspicious activity," for example, even if it is just two African-American men sitting in a car.
Nextdoor, a 5-year-old site that says it is used by 98,000 neighborhoods nationwide, has changed its rules so that users can no longer post warnings simply about people they deem suspicious looking, company chief executive Nirav Tolia told Oakland officials and residents Tuesday night.
Instead, the site now requires users to describe the allegations of criminal behavior before describing suspects, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1rG8QoN ). And if users want to identify someone by race, they must also describe other aspects of the person's appearance, such as clothing.
Company officials say they are trying the changes in the San Francisco Bay Area first and plan to take the new rules nationwide by summer.
"We're making progress" against racial profiling on the site "and we're learning a lot," Tolia told a committee of the Oakland City Council.
Nextdoor developed the changes after consulting with Oakland police and with community groups who had complained about racial profiling on the site.