Nextdoor App Provokes Recall Debate

Anti-recall posts flagged as inappropriate

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Illustration by Anna Maria Camardo

Local users of social networking service Nextdoor flooded the app with posts regarding the petition to recall Santa Cruz City Council Members Drew Glover and Chris Krohn in recent months.

What began as a small back-and-forth quickly snowballed into a debate over what content is allowed on the site.

Tereza Coraggio, Santa Cruz resident and Nextdoor lead — a member who’s allowed to vote to remove posts that may violate Nextdoor guidelines — said there’s been a discrepancy in which posts are left up and which are taken down.

“Only the ones that were in favor of the recall were being left up, no matter how many violations the readers were citing,” Coraggio said. “[…] At the same time, the contrast is looking at the posts and the people who were being removed and how mild-mannered their posts were that were being removed.”

Some pro-recall leads voted to temporarily or permanently suspend 10 people from Nextdoor for criticizing the recall petition, Coraggio said.

Resident Erica Aitken was temporarily suspended from the site in June after a post in which she opposed the recall. The post didn’t contain any aggressive or obscene language that would’ve been flagged as inappropriate. Aitken has since been suspended two more times, most recently in early September. She is not allowed to return to the site until Oct. 19, three days before the deadline for the recall petition. 

“What they tell you is that someone objected to [your post] and it’s usually a lead that was active with the recall movement, and they would tell you that you have to read the guidelines and not do this anymore,” Aitken said. “But the issue with the guidelines is they’re so broad that you could censor every single post made on Nextdoor if you want to, and not others.”

In an analysis of 36 Nextdoor posts, Coraggio found 15 posts explicitly calling for residents to sign the recall petition. She also found 12 posts expressing anti-houseless sentiments.

One person posted three times satirizing the houseless, Coraggio said. 

“What happened to the good old days when we stuck needles in our arms, became homeless and got support from the two city council members?” read one of the posts. “We got free food and a place to camp with cheap heroin!!”

Pro-recall leads voted “do not remove” on this post as well as the rest of the anti-houseless posts, Coraggio said. However, a lead removed a post that discussed GOP support for special interests for “taking this thread away from its original intent covering local issues.”

Recall petitioners have been tabling throughout the city and on campus to garner support for their cause for months, sometimes promulgating unsubstantiated allegations against Glover and Krohn.

“Thirteen complaints of harassing and bullying females were filed against Council members Krohn and Glover,” Santa Cruz United said on their website.

Santa Cruz United — who was unavailable for comment at time of press — did not mention that only two of those allegations were substantiated, and there’s no evidence to support the claim that those incidents were motivated by gender. 

Aitken urges students and other community members who have signed the recall petition to withdraw their signature by Oct. 21. Withdrawal forms are available at https://stopsantacruzrecalls.org/rescind-signature/.

If the recall petition garners enough signatures by the Oct. 22 deadline, the city will decide whether to hold a special election or wait for an upcoming election such as the March 3 primary. 

“It won’t be just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote for the recall. There will also be a part B, so that whether or not you’re for the recall, you then have to vote on some candidates who have never even prepared a campaign, so that you have no idea what their positions are,” Coraggio said. “[…]  I can’t imagine any good way that’s going to go.”