Nextdoor launches new 'Assistant' feature powered by OpenAI's ChatGPT

Neighborhood social network Nextdoor is introducing new features powered by generative AI, the company announced on Tuesday. Most notably, Nextdoor is launching a new "Assistant" feature that helps users on the app write better posts. The new Assistant feature, which is being tested with select users, is powered by OpenAI's ChatGPT.

The Assistant feature is designed to help users write posts that are more likely to drive positive community engagement. When writing a new post, users will start to see a revised suggestion that they can review and edit before finishing their post. Additionally, Assistant will suggest ways to rephrase potentially harmful comments to make the same point in a more friendly way.

"With ChatGPT launching in November, we saw an opportunity to train ChatGPT technology on top of our proprietary local knowledge to create something we think really helps users create a more engaging post," Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar told TechCrunch in an interview. "We're now giving you an assistant that says 'Hey neighbor, would you like to rephrase or reword this post to have more neighbors comment and react to it.' It's able to help you create posts and ultimately engage your neighborhood."

Nextdoor currently has a "Kindness Reminder" feature that notifies users of the platform's community guidelines and gives users the opportunity to reflect on a potentially harmful post. With the new Assistant feature, Nextdoor will start helping users rewrite posts to come across kinder. Say you and a neighbor are discussing the addition of new speed bumps in your neighborhood and you write a heated response. Assistant will help you reword or rephrase your post to ensure that your message comes across in a balanced and constructive way.

In addition, Nextdoor says the new generative AI technologies enable the platform to deliver more personalized and relevant content to users by analyzing the topic and context of conversations. As a result, Nextdoor can better match content to users and provide more targeted recommendations for local news, events and activities.

Friar says Nextdoor is prioritizing safety with this launch, noting that users don't have to interact with the new features. For instance, you don't have to accept the suggestions that Assistant makes, you can go on and post as you would like to while still adhering to the platform's community guidelines.

Nextdoor initially began testing the new features with 25% of its users, and is making them more broadly available starting today, but the company doesn't plan to make the features available to 100% of its user base just yet. Friar says Nextdoor plans to continue to test the features and make sure it's rolling out the technology safely before making it available to everyone. The features will roll out to everyone in the United States overtime, and then eventually to the other markets where Nextdoor is available.

"We'll watch to make sure that there aren't unforeseen consequences, and of course be accountable," Friar said. "We'll continue to move at the right pace to make sure we're doing it the right way. With any new technology, there's always concern about what could happen, but at the same time, we want to make AI available to the masses. I feel like everyone has a right to understand how this technology can make their life more efficient."

Nextdoor plans to continue testing generative AI models and is building a dedicated generative AI team led by the company's Head of AI Qi He, who joined Nextdoor last year after more than eight years at LinkedIn. The dedicated team will be hiring product leaders and engineers to advance the company's use of AI across its platform.

Last year, Nextdoor revamped its app with new profiles and more community-building features. The changes came as the social network developed a reputation for racial profiling over the years, which led to Nextdoor releasing specific features to address this and the company's former CEO stepping down. The revamp was part of Nextdoor’s larger vision and its goal to create a welcoming neighborhood both online and offline.