The social media giant has begun testing a new feature in Canada, dubbed Neighborhoods, that would steal a page from Nextdoor’s playbook and allow users to link up through community-based groups, according to engadget.
The pilot program was spotted by Matt Navarra, a social media consultant. Screenshots showed Facebook trying out the new feature in Calgary under the Canadian spelling “neighbourhoods,” the tech website reports.
Facebook, in turn, confirmed to Bloomberg what it calls a “limited test” in Calgary of its new feature.
“More than ever, people are using Facebook to participate in their local communities,” the spokeswoman said in a statement to the business news service. “To help make it easier to do this, we are rolling out a limited test of Neighborhoods, a dedicated space within Facebook for people to connect with their neighbors.”
Facebook’s move comes as Nextdoor eyes plans to go public, with a potential valuation of $4 billion to $5 billion. The startup is looking to make its move soon, possibly by the end of the year, either through a direct listing or even through a blank-check firm, Bloomberg has reported.
Nextdoor has raised $470 million; its last valuation rang in at $2.2 billion after a round of funding a little over a year ago.
The company’s investors include Benchmark, Shasta Ventures, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Riverwood Capital, Bond, Axel Springer and Comcast Ventures.
Facebook’s test of its new Neighborhoods feature comes at a particularly sensitive time for the social media giant, which is facing antitrust scrutiny by regulators around the world.
Copycat or not, Facebook’s new venture into neighborliness could “take a bite out of Nextdoor,” engadget reports, noting that the upstart now has a presence in a quarter of all neighborhoods in the United States and in 268,000 neighborhoods across the world.
Facebook’s Neighborhoods also has the potential to bring in more revenue through both hyper-local ads and as yet another source for ad-driven data gathering on users’ behavior, the tech publication notes.