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Facebook Picks Des Plaines To Test New 'Neighborhoods' Feature, Taking On Popular Apps Like Nextdoor

DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) -- Facebook seemingly wants to take over the world - one neighborhood at a time.

It has a new product to take on the likes of popular apps like Nextdoor, and the Facebook plan is being tested in one Chicago suburb.

But before you sign up, read and watch this story and find out what CBS 2's Marie Saavedra learned.

Des Plaines is home to more than 58,600 people - and where they live and what they do online has drawn the attention of an internet behemoth.

"Facebook chose well, and they're going to be happy with the results," said Des Plaines Mayor Andrew Goczkowski.

Goczkowski learned Thursday his city is one of 12 nationwide serving as test markets for a new offering, called Facebook Neighborhoods.

"I think the fact that Facebook recognized that Des Plaines has a robust online community of people who are talking to their neighbors and connecting with their neighbors - and talking about issues that matter - is great," the mayor said.

Robust is right. Des Plaines already has several community pages, but Facebook says users are looking for more.

"It centralizes all the local groups that you could be a part of into one place where you can go and join all of them, and then going forward participate in all of them right from neighborhoods," a Facebook representative said.

You may be wondering why Facebook is launching this program, especially at a time when sites like Nextdoor have had a foot hold on neighborhood social media for years. We asked a consumer expert. He thinks the answer is – because Facebook can.

"They want to take over all social media, and so the first step is to copy the best ideas of Nextdoor," said Ed Mierzwinski. "The second step will be to crush them, in my view."

Mierzwinski tracks data privacy with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. He says that concerns over Facebook's use of data remain, and that Neighborhoods is a vehicle to advertise at a hyperlocal level.

If Facebook can collect enough information about you, it can target the ads and charge more money," he said. "That's basically it. You're a product."

His advice to users? Make sure your privacy settings are locked tight, and don't think the intimacy of a Neighborhoods page protects what you post.

But see if you like it - and we're curious, so let us know too.

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