VIEWPOINT: An Unresolved, Ongoing Debate about Censorship on Nextdoor Palisades

Share Story

A movie was filming in front of Palisades High School on November 17. Teenaged actors were allowed at the school, but public school students were not.

Should the post ‘Schools Opening – Why Aren’t the Children the Priority?’ be censored on Nextdoor?

Our country was founded on free speech and that includes speech you might not like or speech that you may not agree with. Our Founding Fathers fought long and hard over the wording of our constitution and the subsequent Bill of Rights.

So that raises the question: Was it right for the January posting on Nextdoor Palisades, “Schools Opening — Why Aren’t the Children the Priority?” to be censored by Nextdoor monitors?

Yesterday, I was looking for the email chain regarding the Back to School in Los Angeles controversy when I noticed that one person had quoted the Constitution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

When I clicked on the link to Nextdoor and tried to find the man’s complete message, the quote and the post had already been removed. Why? I sent a message to the person posting, but never received a response. Maybe he had been removed from Nextdoor?

The man who posted the January “Schools Opening” question was indeed censored, and when he responded on the site that “thought police” had taken down his posting, he was banned from the site for 21 days.

I reached out to several Nextdoor “Leads” to find out how someone can be banned from the site, but never receive a response. One helpful person directed me to Nextdoor’s Community Guidelines.

It turns out that not only can Leads flag a post, but community members can as well.

So, if I don’t like what you’re posting and I think it’s dangerous or subversive or I just want to get back at you, because you’re letting your dog poop on my front lawn, I can contact a Lead and suggest that the person’s posting be dropped.

Nextdoor would never entrust a freedom of speech issue to local people without extensive training, right? Wrong. One of the sole credentials for signing up to be a Lead is you might have been the first person to volunteer. And Leads can choose anyone they want as a co-Lead, which means they can vote with them on banning posts, which represents censorship.

Luckily, there are strict Nextdoor Guidelines, taking the guessing out of whether someone should be banned:

“We encourage members to have conversations about the issues that matter to them in a way that is constructive, civil, and builds community. I realize this isn’t always easy because we care passionately about the places we call home.

“That said, Nextdoor is not a place to attack, berate, belittle, insult, harass, threaten, troll, or swear at your neighbors or their views even if you strongly disagree with them. This includes communication within a Group or via private message.

“Please remember that each member is responsible for making sure their own content follows the Guidelines, regardless of what others may post. If you see members of your community violating the Guidelines, please report any inappropriate messagesreport their account, or contact your Leads for support.”

The man who voiced what many of us have been saying, “Open the Schools,” was silenced and his post removed. When he objected to it being taken down and called a Lead “thought police,” he violated Nextdoor’s Guidelines.

Franz Kafka wrote, “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? . . . But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide.”

As much as I have hated being called various names in recent years, including “racist,” “queer,” “Indian,” “Whitie,” “Dyke,” “Republican,” “Democrat” and “Ugly and fat,” and being accused of siding with one group or another, I will defend your right, as an American, to say those things.

I am strong enough in who I am that I don’t need your approval. I would like it, but free speech is more important.

How effective is local censorship? Extremely effective because it has been tried before and worked.

The following comments have been taken from a report titled “German Collaboration and Complicity,” by The Wiener Holocaust Library:

“. . .some citizens passed on information about their neighbors, family, and friends  . .  . and this was called informing.”

“Nazi propaganda presented the Gestapo as an omnipresent all-seeing, all-knowing group, but in reality there was just one secret police officer for approximately every 10,000 citizens of Nazi Germany. The Gestapo were therefore reliant on a network of thousands of informants.

“The information passed on by informants typically accused someone of breaking the law or of being a criminal in some way. The information provided was not always based on fact and could often be rumor or suspicion.

“For example, if someone had stereotypical Jewish features, they might be informed on to be a potential Jew, and would therefore have to prove that they were not a Jew to the Gestapo or face torture and imprisonment. Informants reported on a number of different undesirable activities, such as anti-Nazi sentiment, communist activity, Jews in hiding, people suspected to be Jews, and much more.

“Informers had various motives including antisemitism, racism, a strong belief in Nazi ideology and governance, fear, personal gain, professional gain, and personal disagreements (e.g. informing the Gestapo that someone was a communist in response to a personal dislike or argument with that person). Most informers were aware of the consequences of their actions.”

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to VIEWPOINT: An Unresolved, Ongoing Debate about Censorship on Nextdoor Palisades

  1. Katherine says:

    You know his name so I won’t post it here. But I will tell you why he was removed for 21 days. So many people had complained about his argumentative posts and his dangerously false information posts about cures for Covid-19 (over and over and over and over again) that people just got tired of him posting.
    Neighbors turn to Nextdoor for helpful, actionable items. e.g. Where can I get vaccine? Who wants to help with food for locked down seniors? Who wants to help them with grocery shopping? Where can I find someone to disinfect house? Old-fashioned neighborly things. Most neighbors post that way.
    A few post repeatedly their own points of view and become the neighborhood bully. Nextdoor is not the neighborhood bully pulpit. He was posting repeatedly in the main discussion streams and in a very negative and argumentative way. It wasn’t censorship….it was just ‘Can you please shut up’ and when he ignored that request (which people had phrased more politely than I just did)…..’people asked for him to be taken offline for few weeks so he wouldn’t dominate the Nextdoor stream .

  2. Steve Jarret says:

    The cancel culture is hard at work

    They are very happy to mention your name to do harm

    Makes them happy ..

  3. Sue says:

    Katherine,

    Thanks for the explanation. I still don’t understand removal because but it’s easy for people just to ignore a posting. I click over postings that I don’t find useful all the time. People don’t need to read the stream – and if the person is ignored by people, who do not responding to posts, it seems like a much more effective way of silencing the person.

    If you censor one person, it becomes a slippery slope to censor others–where do you draw the line?

    If one wants to be fair, it seems ignoring language/postings is the best way to go because it doesn’t take away his/her freedom of speech.

    If that speech is “crazy,” I believe that people will recognize it. (We can agree that neither you nor I support “awful” speech, but we can agree that people should have the right to say it–our country is founded on that principle.)

    Sue

    p.s. I see so much misinformation on Nextdoor, it’s frustrating. For example, regarding the most recent postings about the DWP and bills, Mayor Garcetti at the Democratic Club meeting said people could contact his office about the bills, instead people are sharing their bills, etc. and trashing DWP. Nextdoor does not have the capacity to factcheck.

  4. Annine Madok says:

    So my Nextdoor account was disabled for 31 days today. For posting a link to the above story and using the word “censorship.” This IMHO is the essence of “bullying” as Katherine so kindly put it. I’m sorry, but if people think that will intimated those of us who believe in free speech and holding our leaders to account they are sorely mistaken. You have now taken what was a local issue and made it a national one. Congratulations.

Comments are closed.