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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 8/26/16

Next Door: A Network With a Simple Solution To Curb Racism

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For peacful co-existence we all need to say a big no to racism
For peacful co-existence we all need to say a big no to racism
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Nextdoor, a location-based social network for neighbors with more than 10 million registered users, is launching a new tool today that the company claim has reduced incidents of racial profiling on its network by 75% during tests.

Like all social networks, Nextdoor features a wide variety of post categories but it's the Crime and Safety section where people tend to focus on race and ethnicity. In recent years, so many people have used Nextdoor to report things like black men driving cars or Hispanic women knocking on doors, or a colored person talking on the phone or walking a dog as suspicious or even criminal that the site has become a home promoting racial profiling.

Racism and Islamophobia is skyrocketing in this part of the world, thanks to the corporate media's skewed reporting and politicians who want to cash fears of the people. Yet, it became a serious issue for Nextdoor in 2015 when a social group called Neighbors for Racial Justice, brought it to the limelight. A number of news outlets reported on the frequency of posts about crime or suspicious behavior that mentioned an individual's race, but little or nothing related to the specific criminal activity.

Nextdoor claims that it is determined to curb racial profiling through a new algorithm which automatically recognizes racially coded terms and prevents users from posting without specific descriptors. This new tool is an online form for reporting crime and safety issues instead of an empty text box like a police questionnaire. The form asks explicit details about the height, clothing, and age discouraging people from focusing exclusively on race and ethnicity.

Racial profiling is a terrible issue but a widespread moral crime which may lead to violence as it is evident from the murder of Khalid Jabara, a 38-year-old Christian Arab from Lebanon who was killed by his 61-year-old racist neighbor Vernon Majors.

This unusual initiative by a tech Company is appreciable. Hope the newspapers will come up with such simple solutions to stop hate speech against specific communities in their comment sections. In this world, where media and tech Industry boundaries are blurred and even cross each, tech Industry will have to play its role to celebrate diversity and curb racism. In this globalized village, will have to say an absolute no to racism for a peaceful co-existence.

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Tazeen Hasan is a Research Fellow and campaign lead against arbitrary detentions at Justice For All Canada, a global human rights advocacy group working for a just and Genocide free world.

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