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Neighborhood-Based Apps and the Socialized Fear of Crime

Violent crime is at the lowest rate in decades, but don't tell that to the people who use neighborhood-based apps like Nextdoor, Citizen, and Neighbors.
May 9, 2019, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Sharaf Maksumov

Rani Molla calls neighborhood-based apps fear-based apps, because of how they've aggravated a false sense of rising danger in the United States.

There's a lot of data to suggest that apps like Nextdoor are growing much more popular, while public perceptions of crime or worsening despite historically low crime statistics.

Amazon Ring recently entered the space with an app called Neighbors, which "alerts users to local crime news from “unconfirmed sources” and is full of Amazon Ring videos of people stealing Amazon packages and “suspicious” brown people on porches." Amazon Ring also has also advertised an editorial position to coordinate news coverage on crime.

To connect the popularity of these apps with the worsening public perception of safety, Molla cites a number of experts and news sources. One big takeaway from the analysis of these trends in apps: crowdsourced "news" about crime doesn't reflect the actual neighborhood; rather, it reflects the biases of people living in those neighborhoods.

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