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Crime alert app isn’t what it seems

Originally called “Vigilante,” the “Citizen” app purports to send users real-time crime-and-safety alerts, chiefly by monitoring 911 communications (details here). But Mother Jones magazine, in a lengthy exposé (read it here), accuses the startup company of often sending false information, subjecting its staff to a toxic work environment and “horrible working conditions,” and trying to sell its premium products by “intensify[ing] users’ senses of fear and pervasive danger.”

The Mother Jones article also reported a staffer accused “the company [of doing] little … to moderate a comments section riddled with hate speech, racism, and violent language. And it didn’t always adhere to its own rules, violating internal privacy standards meant to protect the identities of people in videos.” In particular, it described how Citizen’s CEO offered a bounty for a person who allegedly started a California wildfire. which led to police briefly detaining that person, who turned out to be innocent (read details here).

As the MJ article describes things, this startup is putting out misinformation and bending ethical boundaries as it desperately struggles to become profitable. The Wikipedia article on Citizen (first link above) also is highly critical of the controversial company.

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