Santa Clara City Council candidate Anthony Becker was recently suspended from the NextDoor app and he believes it was politically motivated. Becker was notified this week that his account has been suspended until Nov. 4, one day after the election.
The District 6 candidate is involved in a contentious race with Gautam Barve and Robert Mezzetti. Mezzetti is endorsed by Mayor Lisa Gillmor while Becker is part of a group of candidates trying to break what they call “a cycle of discrimination” within the Santa Clara City Council.
Becker says NextDoor accused him of “bullying and belittling others” and suspended his account, but he believes he’s the one who is being bullied.
“Why can’t I stand up for myself?” asked Becker. “This reminds me of when I was a kid in high school and the bullies would pick on you. Then finally you would react and then you get sent to the office. The bullies get away with it and you’re the one getting in trouble.”
Becker says it was a couple of key users in the neighborhood that would attack the comments he made on NextDoor and when he commented back, he was accused of bullying.
“It’s attacks and spreading lies and then when you defend yourself, they turned it into ‘you’re unstable’ or ‘councilmembers don’t talk like that to people like that.,’” said Becker. “No, councilmembers should start talking like that to people by standing up to what’s right and what the truth is and not just standing down.”
He says similar “trolls” are trying to instigate a response from him on Twitter and Facebook.
Becker is not the only Santa Clara City Council candidate experiencing these problems. A few weeks ago, District 1 candidate Harbir Bhatia was kicked off of her NextDoor neighborhood and all of her comments were removed after people accused her of bullying. Like Becker, she says she was trying to defend herself.
Bhatia’s opponent, Kathy Watanabe, happens to be the moderator of the NextDoor neighborhood. She says she recused herself from the situation because of the election.
“I have purposely refrained from political postings, responding to political postings, reporting content, voting on reported content, etc. because I knew it wasn’t appropriate,” Watanabe posted on NextDoor and reiterated in a separate email to The Weekly. “I cannot shed light on why the account was disabled.”
While Becker is still trying to get his account reinstated, Bhatia has had the issue resolved. NextDoor made her account active again, but her previous comments defending herself are still missing.
Bhatia says it’s symptomatic of a larger issue involving the NextDoor app.
“Our examples are how during elections they can silence people because of the way the system is set up,” said Bhatia. “If that could happen to us now, imagine the amount of bullying that must be happening all the time.”
The Weekly reached out to NextDoor for a comment but has not received one.