Citizen’s dangerous effort to cash in on vigilantism

In case people are missing the broader point of the article, beyond the horrifying incident at the beginning:

“The whole idea behind Protect is that you could convince people to pay for the product once you’ve gotten them to the highest point of anxiety you can possibly get them to,” one former employee said, referring to Citizen’s subscription service. “Citizen can’t make money unless it makes its users believe there are constant, urgent threats around them at all times,”

Citizen incentivizes both its employees and the public to create incidents because they are the core currency of the app and what drives user engagement, user retention, and a sense of reliance on the app itself.

“It’s basically an anxiety sweatshop,” a Citizen source said. “On days when things are ‘slow,’ they relax the standards around incidents because a dip in incident count is really bad,” they added. The company sends congratulatory emails announcing which analysts reported the highest number of incidents, another source added.

A former employee added, “They don’t much care about the accuracy or the usefulness of the information they put out, they just want to push as many notifications to create that feeling of vulnerability that leads people to the subscription services.”

> The whole idea behind Protect is that you could convince people to pay for the product once you’ve gotten them to the highest point of anxiety you can possibly get them to,” one former employee said, referring to Citizen’s subscription service. “Citizen can’t make money unless it makes its users believe there are constant, urgent threats around them at all times,”

There are a lot of businesses built on this model. The news outlets spring immediately to mind.

Everything is “BREAKING NEWS” these days, complete with fancy graphics and soundtracks. But there just isn’t enough news day-to-day to warrant that level of importance. Not everyday is 9/11, much to news outlets’ dismay.

In The Newsroom the crew of an evening news show would call their network’s control room and “break in” to the broadcast out of turn, when something really important was happening. If the term has any coherent meaning I expect it’s that. Worth interrupting other programming for. On a 24×7 news network, probably meaningless.

I agree, I watched the weather channel with my father in law yesterday… Everything was “THREAT!” and “POSSIBLE TORNADO”, etc. This is being shown in Southern California lol and they are reporting on minor weather risks a thousand miles away.

Fox news does the same thing… Find crime anywhere in the country, bonus points if it involves sex or a minority and make it a headline if it involves an immigrant.

That is, to an extent, a US problem. At least at the very extremes US media shows. Stuff like Citizens is even more extreme, using these mechanisms for even clearer, and more direct, monetary gain. Just how something like that can be legal is beyond me. Even US police saw it as potential risk, that alone tells everything.

> This is being shown in Southern California lol and they are reporting on minor weather risks a thousand miles away.

Well, yeah. The Weather Channel is nationwide. ???

‘Extra Extra Read All About it!’ from anon newspaper kid standing on the street-corner ~100+ years ago (probably older).

That had a literal meaning at one point, but then it got diluted.

Newspapers were published several times a day when I was a child, so the late edition would have things that happened in the afternoon.

If something very big happened, they would put out an “extra” edition and trucks would race to get the extras out to the newsstands, newspaper boxes, and corner stores.

A news agent shouting “Extra! Extra!” was originally informing people that something had happened and the news was in the freshly printed “extra” edition, so even if they’d already bought a paper that day, they’d be motivated to buy another.


Not really the same thing. That’s just once a day.

If we wanna go deep we can talk about the evolutionary origins of gossip. I’m sure being a social animal with complex signs and individual identities demands communication about one’s neighbours and peers.

What I mean is a constantly televised high bandwidth audio visual stream. That’s only 40 years old.

BREAKING NEWS is just a synonym for “news”. The addition of the word “breaking” is just a stylistic choice and conveys no additional meaning.

>The addition of the word “breaking” is just a stylistic choice and conveys no additional meaning.

“breaking news” is supposed to refer to news that’s currently ongoing or developing. Whether or not it means much now, when practically all news is live, is debatable.

After 2 days of wall To wall coverage in print, online, on radio and on tv, you had heard about it.

Breaking is when things are changing rapidly and an event is currently Happening.

There are politicians built on this model. Reagan became a canonised saint for imprisoning a record number of African Americans and Hispanics.

Oh god. Reminds me of this talk given a certain lawyer, Cliff Ennico, called “How to sell anything to anybody”. I watched it by recommendation of a family member, and the very gist of it is: there are two reasons people buy stuff – desire, and fear. If you can artificially inflate either and promise your product will resolve their discomfort, people will rush to buy your wares.

I remember being both appalled at the deep immorality of exploiting this, and scared of how true this is.

In this instance, we have a company that went with the “induce fear” approach.

A different, really strong example of selling on fear is the whole cottage industry of products and services for parents. People who are expecting or just had their first child are probably the easiest group to sell to. I say that as a relatively fresh parent myself. All you have to do is to hint that there’s a non-zero probability of some danger to life or health of a newborn, and say that your product mitigates it, and you can sell us absolutely anything at almost any price.

It’s super frustrating being a data security consultant sometimes (my trade), due to the fact that playing up danger and fear to close deals has never been something I’ve been willing to do.

Maybe I need to get over my reluctance, or find a better line of work.

Yeah, a coworker convinced me to install Citizen and after a week or two I had to block its notifications. It was very consistent in keeping a distracting baseline volume going, regardless of the severity of the incidents. For a little while it was amusing in a voyeuristic way (oh good, someone else reporting a crackhead brandishing a stick two miles away, ahhh check out the nutjobs in the comments section), but ultimately totally useless to me, especially from a “personal safety” perspective. I guess I’m not the target market here.

I don’t use Nextdoor or the Neighbors app but I get the impression that they work in a similar fashion – get the worried people in the area all worked up about every little thing – keep them thinking they are under constant threat.

I have a Ring and the Neighbors app. 99% of the “incidents” are people sharing the coyote or fox in their yard, scared about the “rabid wolf” in their yard. Meanwhile we’ve actually had a murder, bank robbery and dead body found in a park in the last 3 months, and only a quick bleep about any of those incidents.

The app, or rather the “community” behind it, is worthless for any “news” or public safety alerts. If it wasn’t integrated with the app to view my own camera’s feeds, it would be gone from my phone. Any time there is anything of note, it’s filled with garbage nonsense comments that are at best terrible attempts at humor, or vile and repugnant at worst.

-10/10, would not recommend.

Our local Nextdoor is similar. Someone called 911 on a deer. When he was asked “It’s a deer, why did you call 911?” he stated a charging deer could easily kill a child. Which is something that while technically true, deer only tend to kill people when it involves vehicle accidents (car strikes deer) – not because a deer trampled am unsupervised toddler.

Holy cow, the single biggest benefit to Nextdoor? Learning which of your neighbors are racist or otherwise … problematic.

“Suspicious person on Elm Street, lock your cars!” is usually thinly veiled “I saw someone black walking their dog”.

It’s horrific at times.

I got involved with Nextdoor as I’m on a board for a community organization and would answer questions, etc.

Our city’s Nextdoor is pretty great, the biggest annoyance are the people focused on cats and their various woes.

Recently Nextdoor decided to mix it up and started making changes allowing some limited visibility of surrounding suburbs. Oh boy.

The mix of superiority and fear in the suburbanites are incredible. They are angry about a county bike trail because “undesirables” may bike into their town. There’s petitions in opposition to turn lanes on a roadway for some batshit reasons, racist comments about players on a city high school baseball team, etc.

Bikes and bike lanes are particularly contentious, which is weird because kids out there bike everywhere. (Worried about undesirable people again)

It’s a really aspect of society that I honestly never witnessed in person.

Actually I think this is the biggest thing stopping them from mass adoption. Nextdoor knows they have a problem I think they’re doing their best to fix it. It’s really just the early adopters are of a particular persuasion and it gives exactly the idea that you’re describing. So this is obviously problematic for them because they are actually hope to basically be a better craigslist one day.

I think they do it on purpose. The only way to push alerts to users’ apps is with a “safety alert”. The only way you can post to your whole city is in the crime and safety category. The amplification of fear is built-in.

Also, the idea NextDoor has a desire to “reform” their userbase or target market or whatever is something I simply don’t believe unless definitively proven otherwise, if it’s even possible. The entire premise of the OP is an app that realized it could literally sell fear to people and profit! Why should anyone believe NextDoor is different, especially when the prevailing meme is that it’s mostly the same already? The second the numbers come back and say “Selling fear will make the most money in the long run”, they’ll absolutely go in on it whole-heartedly, if they haven’t already.

It’s strange, but I suspect that all the various business models that revolve around “Turn every single person in society into a policeman in a panopticon” might just be fundamentally bad, and not capable of reform or realignment.

As an observer from the other side of the pond, I do feel that there’s lots of companies built on unsubstantiated fear in the US. Times change and so do the threats, but in a nutshell:

•Nuclear bunkers to keep your family safe. •Big guns because they will come for you. •All sorts of tracking devices for kids. •Surveillance systems for homes

So the latest seems to be a modern day witch-hunting for masses.

It’s not just US. It’s the whole western world, everywhere where modern market economy took hold. Look beyond the obvious cases, and you’ll see it. For instance:

– I’ve already mentioned parents upthread. You can sell them any kind of crap if you even hint at some obscure danger to health or life of a newborn. Half of the market of products for parents/small children is based on that. The other half runs on a combination of FOMO, fear of being a bad parent (or being seen as one), and fear of your kid falling behind someone else’s kid.

– Wedding market runs on insecurity. If you don’t buy this or rent that, your wedding will not be perfect. It’s once-in-a-lifetime thing, you can’t settle for anything less than ideal. Don’t mind the loan you’ll have to take, paying back which will define the first few years of your marriage.

– Fear of cancer and cardiovascular diseases is what makes people shut down critical thinking and buy all kinds of bullshit. Organic food and fitness businesses are based mostly on that.

I could go on.

You are right.

We welcomed our daughter a few years ago and the amount of stuff that has been invented over the last decade is breathtaking. Monitors, special pillows, all sorts of foods, supplements, and what not. You look at it all and think wtf…

FOMO is huge too, especially with social media nowadays. I can’t count the number of times people look at me with puzzled expressions thinking how on earth I don’t use x,y,or z service/product. Want to lose weight? Of course you can’t just go for a walk. You need a subscription to 5 celebrity weight loss programs, an indoor bike for a couple grand, super 24/7 gym membership, running club, neighborhood calorie watch, lifting buddy,etc.

> We welcomed our daughter a few years ago

Belated congratulations!

> You look at it all and think wtf…

Yeah, you do now. I remember us thinking differently around the time our daughter was born. Even though we both should’ve known better, we got the fear and anxiety to control us for a while. It was only at the point we found ourselves agonizing over choosing a breath monitor that we suddenly realized we’re being played – we don’t need it, our child isn’t in the risk group, and we should stop letting our random worrying drive our purchasing decisions.

I think the kernel of the problem is this: you make money by selling a solution to a problem that someone has. You can do this by looking at the existing set of problems and coming up with a solution (product, service). This is good. BUT you can also do this by creating NEW problems and then selling a solution to those. It seems to me to be a fundamental problem in our economy and in our politics.

The best lies are rooted in truth. Most of us will die from one of those, but it doesn’t mean buying into fitness/healthy food mania has any meaningful chance of delaying it, or that eating normal food carries meaningfully increased risk.

The lie is often just conveniently forgetting to account for base rate when evaluating research papers about correlation between food/behavior and aforementioned disease classes.

> Surveillance systems for homes

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of lower level crime like package theft, car break-ins, etc. The cops are pretty much too busy to help and don’t care unless there are multiple felonies and real harm. Having a deterrent like a camera system can be helpful – making yourself a less convenient target really helps.

When people feel insecure they’re soon going to ask for their liberties to be removed. Every politician knows that, and fueling that feel is the best recipe to create a soft dictatorship with public approval.

The SLOs (senior lead officer) for various LA neighborhoods used to debunk a lot of the Citizen reports which got cross-posted to LA facebook groups. They stopped last year because it was just too much work, saying to just assume that anything you see on Citizen is fake unless you have external corroboration of the report from a non-Citizen source.

This implied diagnosis is very similar to Bowling for Columbine’s thesis about the news in America, its hunger for sensationalism and viewers making it amplify the perception of threat so that people felt they needed to be armed.

> they just want to push as many notifications to create that feeling of vulnerability

Sounds like they adopted the business model of the AV industry.

I do notice, at least in my city, that there seem to be a lot more reports of violent crime in my area on citizen than I would expect from looking at the city’s official crime map data. that said, I don’t trust the city enough to conclude that the inaccuracy is mostly on citizen’s side.

In most places, crimes are reported to the city by average people but then investigated to determine if anything actually occurred. As far as I know, Citizen lets people reports things with no filtering at all.

So by all means, use an anti-government stance to trust a stream of completely unverified claims.

My local paper does the service of publishing 911/police reports. Some would make it to a crime map but a lot of this merits a shrug. Example: “A caller from Rollins View Drive, near Bear Springs Road, reported a heated verbal altercation with a neighbor that ended when they spat in the caller’s face.” – avoid heated arguments with neighbor. The only way this realistically gets into a crime report is if a cop/DA really doesn’t like the spitter, etc.

Overall: Of course, police reports aren’t fully accurate but the reports of “Citizen”, being completely unfiltered, allow wingnuts and busybodies put out their narrative in an unfettered fashion.


police are also known to intentionally downgrade or even discourage crime reports to improve statistics. this can either be overt (“do you really want to file a report for that?) or the result of no one giving a fuck the last time you bothered to report a crime. I’m sure there are a lot of misunderstandings or flat-out fabrications that make it onto citizen. I’m also quite certain there are a lot of crimes that are observed but don’t get officially documented. maybe this is a wild thing to say, but I’m actually not 100% sure who I trust less between official police records and random community members.

I don’t agree. police should use discretion when deciding whether to make an arrest or write a ticket, and prosecutors should use discretion when deciding which cases to prosecute. we don’t need to aggressively seek penalties for jaywalkers. but the crime statistics should represent, as accurately as possible, the actual amount of crime that occurs. otherwise, what is the point?

but the crime statistics should represent, as accurately as possible, the actual amount of crime that occurs.otherwise, what is the point?

Crime statistics are somewhat arbitrary and pointless. A large amount of things considered crimes, including things that are sometimes prosecuted, are “in the eye of the beholder”. A significant portion of prosecutions involve interpersonal conflicts that slowly escalated. It’s very to say when the threshold of crime starts given that American laws are quite flexible. The crime of “riot” is a group of people wandering around in a fashion that makes other people feel unsafe. Disorderly conduct includes being at a place of business without intending to make a purpose. People sometimes good to jail for such.

But given you also have, in this fine nation, a population of people ready to scream and call the cops about just about anything, if you record every single thing that these people report, you’ll have a certified stream of garbage.

The thing is, while crime statistics are indeed somewhat arbitrary, they are sort of intended to be “how unsafe does the average person actually feel” which is different than “how unsafe does the occasional angry wingnut feel?”

Moreover, this nation counts among it’s citizen

I have learned that the crime maps I’ve seen mostly in my city are nothing compared to what is really going on.

For a while some years back one of the newspapers had a tool that showed police calls (there are many more calls than actual prosecuted crimes) – now that was much more realistic as to what’s really going on – but it’s still not the complete picture. (I don’t think that tool is available any longer)

Once the citizens run into enough situations where calling the cops results in zero things happening – many decide to stop calling the cops.. yet the crimes are continuing, so less are being reported… and often times the reported crimes that show up on main map are lesser charges than what the witnesses felt or whatever.

Anyhow I figure it’s good for property values and tourism and all that.

I have seen several situations in which cops did not make reports, would not further investigate things )even some some physical evidence in front of us and eye witnesses providing more details)

I have witnessed cops on multiple occasions try to talk stores out of pressing charges for ‘petty’ crimes..

Hey they have good reason sometimes I know – but this must be happening many times every day – so crime maps in general I take with a grain of salt knowing there are more that are not being shown for sure.

> Citizen, using a new livestreaming service it had just launched called OnAir, would catch the suspect live on air, with thousands of people watching.

I’m sorry, is this describing real life or an episode of Black Mirror? It’s so blatantly dystopian that I’m at a loss for words.

Minority Report came out in 2002. I remember people were talking about the targeted advertising going on in the movie. Two years later Facebook came out along with their pitch deck[1]. Now that movie seems quaint.

Developers and entrepreneurs are actively chasing dystopia. We’ve become increasingly numb and blasé about the encroachment of the internet and smartphones into our lives. Eventually we’ll have The Running Man with live streaming. The end result of our social isolation and filter/engagement bubbles due to technology is moral apathy and rot. To speak the VC speak, the past few years have validated a market for cruelty, hate, and mob justice. The only question left is, how do I buy in today? Citizen seems like an early answer to this.

[1] https://app.slidebean.com/p/s15UZQkE7T/Facebooks-original-pi…

The poignant part about Fahrenheit scene is that in the end, they just end up “catching and destroying” some random passerby when they can’t find the target because people the show must have an end and it’s all about optics. “The enemy has been neutralised”.

Yeah, for the first couple of paragraphs, I was sure they’re summarizing some movie. Because I’ve already seen this exact story at least twice, played out to disastrous consequences.

One take was in “The Circle”. Still not sure why people hate that movie, it’s pretty much a documentary on Google and Facebook, and about the only fictional element in it are the advanced video cameras. That, and this vigilante crime tracking, which until now I thought nobody was insane enough to try and make a startup of.

> I never thought someone would watch it and think, “Holy shit I have to make it” though.

See also: intrusive mass spying using cell phones in the Dark Knight

Cue some muggers becoming celebrities due to executing their actions in flamboyant outfits, it’ll be the next professional wrestling!

RoboCop comes to mind, which is ironic since the movie was obviously a parody. Also, isn’t this what reality shows like Cops were about?

There is a large market for morbidity.

A… parody? Of what?

I thought it was a fairly straightforward story about the military industrial complex abusing civil rights and losing in the end “because human brains are special”, but I was a kid when it came out so I surely missed what source material it was a parody of.

I took it for a movie intended to be serious that was making not-especially-original commentary on policing and both government and corporate malfeasance, but not that it was parodying anything in particular, I thought the story was as original as most.

Unfortunately, many contemporary American critics completely missed the point of Verhoeven’s not-so-subtle dystopian critiques, presumably because they were so accustomed to reviewing films featuring the unironic glorification of state sponsored violence.

See also: Starship Troopers.

It is real life. I’ve uninstalled the app multiple times because it was obvious that it was manufacturing anxiety. I was the first in my circles to delete Facebook and other social media profiles for the same reason (actually delete the profile not just uninstall). I felt others just didn’t notice what was going on. With Citizen I then learned to just disable notifications.

If you’ve deleted the app a number of times, does that mean you support/find the baseline functionality of the app useful? So even though they’re an outrage machine, you support the business model?

They’ve overlaid all US jurisdictions with Covid-19 stats in the area for the past 12 months, all while cities were emptying out and actually descending into a mixture of unrest and literal fireworks.

I have been finding that much more useful than before for a variety of reasons. Did my Walgreens get looted again? Where is the protest right now? Gunshots or fireworks? R0 is increasing, ICU capacity is getting closer to full, alrighty then. What’s the name of that local politician again, let me check the comments to see who everyone is blaming in this area.

I don’t have notifications on for it to tell me about mostly irrelevant things that were always happening, and thats the main difference. I never noticed they were also selling a paid paranoia product.

I don’t check the app unless I see something like smoke in the distance or hear many emergency vehicles. Things I used to check twitter or snapmaps about.

> Citizen does moderate comments, but “two people having an argument about whether or not someone’s comment is racist drives engagement,”

LOL, my publicist does this on linkedin and other places for us because people are gullible.

Source article: Executive of does a thing

0 engagement, nobody knows

Social Media version: [First] Executive of does a thing

15,000 comments, 2 million reach, supporters and detractors argue with each other on the headline creating more engagement. Messages role in. Its perfect and yes we think you are all dumb. Always remember who is shaking the bottle that you’re inside of.

Must be nice, actively exploiting human nature and then calling the humans dumb and gullible for having said nature and falling for your exploitation. Absolves you of any liability for being no better than a troll because what, you’re smarter than everyone else, I guess? You and your “publicist” (what are you, Ryan Gosling?) figured out dark marketing patterns and now you’re on a different plane of existence from the plebes?

I don’t know what you think this comment accomplishes, but it certainly didn’t accomplish that. Who’s shaking your bottle, enlightened one?

Plenty of people are smart enough to manipulate others, but don’t because they’re not assholes.

Manipulating people for personal gain doesn’t make you smart. It just makes you a psychopath.

Bring it up with the publicist. They’re all third party and they all share the same tactics with each other for engagement. I have been willing to concede that there are a lot of people inspired by people that look like them and otherwise wouldn’t even notice if it weren’t for categorized headlines and lists. It is icing on the cake that different people are triggered by that, and even greater icing on the cake that all platforms have convergent evolution to promoting this kind of engagement and anxiety.

And who pays and directs said publicist? You were in cahoots reflecting on the intelligence of your marks fifteen minutes ago, remember?

Go ahead, walk back the psychopathy because you couldn’t stick to it. We all totally buy the assignment of liability to a third party and respect your commitment to the troll. The only thing more amusing than a troll is a troll that collapses like a limp noodle under sustained fire from more experienced trolls.

‘it’s a third party, so I’m totally not responsible for it, even though I know what’s going on and pay for it, and then brag about it online’

This is the 3rd Citizen headline I’ve seen since yesterday. I’d say their publicist is doing a top notch job of driving engagement through outrage to spread name recognition.

I’m a hypocrite for commenting, but it would be nice if we didn’t let engagement bait like this stay on the front page this long.

Users getting so offended by this comment are hilarious. He didn’t create this system, if you were in a similar position tasked to get attention for a client or business you could take the high road of not using proven social media tactics and fail miserably. The sanctimonious take that he’s a ‘manipulative asshole’ for playing the system is laughable. Don’t hate the player hate the game.

It has really demystified a lot of whats going on, for me, especially on LinkedIn.

It was probably 4 years ago when our publicist first told us about double spaced motivational nonsense going viral consistently. We were amused, bemused really, because we didn’t care for it but were fine with the low effort involved.

Now with the aforementioned tactic, LinkedIn does consistently surface “[First] [Female] ” posts, and I like to look at the source article to see if it was actually published that way, because if it wasn’t I have a good chuckle because I know exactly what’s going on. The people in the comments only react.

I would honestly rather my business fail than participate in that sort of manipulation. “Unethical” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The game is supported by the players willing to play. If you play, you’re culpable.

There are a lot of people inspired by representation and wouldn’t know of it if the headline didn’t say so

It is the other people that don’t understand that and are also triggered by it that boost the engagement by orders of magnitude

Publicists do more representation posts because of the engagement

Publicists are aware why the engagement is so high

Is it unethical manipulation if the publicists aren’t aware?

Is it unethical manipulation if people weren’t triggered by representation posts?

Is it unethical manipulation if the platforms themselves didn’t rely on and enable commenter controversy?

But go ahead, gnaw at the messenger who hired a publicist and is telling you how the whole network of publicists operate right now

>I would honestly rather my business fail than participate in that sort of manipulation. “Unethical” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Ethics become a bit more complex when you are employing people. Would you rather your business fail, so that all the people working for you become unemployed overnight, despite a lot of them having their livelihoods depend on that?

To be clear, I don’t think that “i have people working for me, whose livelihoods depend on my business surviving” is a great excuse for all kinds of immoral behavior, but it definitely adds to the nuance. And given what specific scenario we are dealing with here, I don’t think it is as clear-cut as you try to make it seem.

It’s still a wild west where people cling to sensationalism. I think the consequence is people grow up in it and form a tolerance. I know I have, I just assume an article’s worth is inversely proportional to its controversy.

It’s crazy watching the world turn into a dystopia and being powerless to stop it. It not just about this company. If they fail another will replace it. Society seems to be on a convergent path with dystopian scifi. This, Chicago police automated policing program (detects crime before it happenes and actually hurt innocent people), racially biased facial recognition. I read an article today about some DNA software being used to convict someone to death row. His legal team couldn’t view the source code to challenge its probabalistic accuracy.

It doesn’t seem like there is even a place to start. A first step could be making a website that documents and tracks all these things then forming a pac. But how long will the take before and if it starts effecting change

> This, Chicago police automated policing program (detects crime before it happenes and actually hurt innocent people)

One of the worst things I’ve seen was posted here on HN[1] almost a year ago. It’s an in-depth report on a similar program to Chicago’s, but in Florida.

There was a companion article[2] with videos from the program, and it’s just horrifying. It shows several videos taken from body cameras of police officers harassing, assaulting and abducting people, some of them children, because they showed up in their system as being related to, or knowing, people who are suspected, and not convicted, of crimes.

Here’s a summary of the program[3], and law enforcement’s own comments about its purpose:

> The motivation of the program is more sinister than merely “fighting crime”: The Sheriff’s Office acknowledged that they want these “problem people” gone. Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, the architect of the program, boasted that the goal was to predict which residents are likely to commit crimes and then “take them out.” In the words of a former Pasco County deputy, they were under orders to “[m]ake their lives miserable until they move or sue.”

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24363871

[2] https://projects.tampabay.com/projects/2020/investigations/p…

[3] https://ij.org/case/pasco-predictive-policing/

Thanks for bringing this up. That investigation was horrific.

And, no doubt, has lead to absolutely nothing changing there.

Dystopian novels aren’t very sci-fi. Many of their authors just researched what was already going on in their own time and formed a new narrative around them. The only thing different today is how people allow themselves to be taken advantage of. They used to give up their freedom for security. Now they give up their privacy for entertainment. But even mega-corps being the new oligarchy isn’t new. The railroads, oil companies, and newspapers were controlling government and public perception a century ago. The internet is the new railroad, and tech is the new oil and newspaper.

It’s never going to change. Society is doped up on Uber Eats and Instagram Live and The Nightly 30 Minutes of Fear and Hate. People don’t want to think about how their society is fucked, they want to think about who’s going to win The Bachelor, or why The Other (Political Party, Nation, Ethnicity) is evil and must be destroyed. People much smarter than me have been pointing this out for a century, too.

Every time someone pops up with one of those “Google destroyed my business and won’t respond” type problems I’m always reminded of the movie Brazil. Just read the automated messages Google sends out sometime and the callousness of how they can ruin lives by sheer algorithmic accident.

I call this phenomenon: Getting Fucked By Scale. It’s the idea that a scaled algorithm (take, for example, YouTube automated copyright filters) have some percentage of false positives. Maybe that percent is only 0.05%. At a scale of millions and billions of people, that’s a lot of people getting fucked.

And today, any one of us could end up as Sam Lowry. A fly gets stuck in the Google machine and your life is suddenly going sideways.

Brazil really is a great depiction of our current dystopia. The fly in the machine leading to Archibald Buttle’s wrongful execution is a great analogy for the people whose lives are thrown sideways when the Google algorithm bans their account.

But another scene that really sticks with me is the one where Sam Lowry has the desk in his room, but some person in the room next to him keeps stealing it from him. The fact that 1 desk is shared by 2 rooms is this nonsensical optimization that really just inconveniences him, but highlights how powerless everyone in this world is. For a real world example, there was a time when I was trying to block Facebook and other sites on my phone by editing my phone’s hosts file, but couldn’t find a way to do it that didn’t involve rooting my phone. While trying to find how to do it, I found some people who wanted to do the same thing but all were met with the response “it’s locked down to protect you, why would you want to block a website?” It’s a very helpless feeling to not have control over something you own.

The worst part is, most people I know see issues like this situation with Citizen’s and think we need more centralization of power in order to prevent it.

Yea your right! My ethics in tech professor taught us that tech doesn’t bring new issues just new presentations. U can abstract this all down to power/greed/tendencies of human nature (comfort, ease)

> and being powerless to stop it.

You are only powerless so long as you decide to stay within the comfortable confines of the law.

The crowd of Hacker News alone certainly has enough ability to cause serious problems for Citizen, whether through activism within their own megacorporations or independent ability.

You don’t even have to break the law.

Hacker News and the software engineering industry has a decent influence in the world, as we can’t (yet) be automated away and it takes years to become proficient.

If we as an industry collectively agree that X is bad and refuse to work on it, X will be significantly disrupted, as their only option might to be offering more money (to get someone to defect and renege on the promise) than they can afford or that makes sense with their economics.

Creepy adtech could die tomorrow if people refuse to work on it. The same applies to this Citizen crap.

I just don’t see that as feasible. I consider the entire concept of Palantir to be disgusting, but there are clearly enough software developers who think that enabling state surveillance makes people safer.

All it takes is a few thousand such people (a small fraction of a percent), and it doesn’t matter what “the industry” agrees not to work on.

I feel like you might have the misconception that “tech people” are some homogenous bloc that believes in the same things and would stand behind a single policy platform. The reality is nothing at all like that.

That’s true, but you’d need an implausibly high percentage of developers to agree to the boycott for it to work. Since that conformity is unlikely it’s even harder to attain because every individual thinks “Even I forgo this lucrative job it’ll still be done by someone else and I’ll just have less money.”

You’re not powerless. Shut off the anxiety generators, and be the change you want in the world. I dumped Facebook & Twitter, and am reducing HN & other social media. Get news from proper objective sources, choose the category of media you consume (TownsendsPlus.com provides great reality checks), and otherwise choose the life you want to live – and live it.

And companies like this will continue on, making the world worse for everyone. Including you. This cannot be changed by changing yourself.

I’m old enough to gave seen many such juggernauts collapse when enough individuals decided to change themselves.

Smith-Corona was the #1 worldwide most recognized brand. I was contracting there when they shut down, as typewriter purchases practically ended (in favor of personal computers).

Kodak was the name in photography, with few viable competitors. When I heard (internally) their 5-year plan to address the onset of digital photography, I knew they were doomed. Individual purchases of film cameras plummeted, favoring digital cameras, and thus individual choices ended chemical photography within months.

Likewise hundreds of other corporate examples. Market-dominating businesses falter and fail, time and again, because individuals choose another option – LOTS of individuals. Every purchase & interaction is an individual choice. Comes a point when the juggernauts are no longer chosen by enough.

I’ve been on social media since the days of dial-up BBSes. I watched AOL and CompuServe rise, seemingly steamrolling the digital world to dominance; then … they vanished almost overnight. Likewise other media juggernauts (usenet, MySpace, Second Life, etc), unstoppable until individual users cumulatively decided to go elsewhere. “But Facebook/Twitter/etc are different!” No they’re not. They’re showing the same life cycle others did, albeit with a couple more digits in user count. They’re showing the same cracks (over-moderation, boredom, “nobody goes there ‘cuz it’s too packed”) as others have done. We’re due for a new platform populated by mass migration of cumulative individuals.

Ultimately, it’s your choice. What life do you want to live? Sure it’s easy to go with the crowd, and deviation may be difficult … but the choice is yours. And theirs. Live the life you want, be true to yourself – and you may be surprised how many make the same choice, in part because you did.

Dystopian sci-fi (cyberpunk in particular) did a pretty good job of looking at emergent technology and human nature and extrapolating.

> It’s crazy watching the world turn into a dystopia and being powerless to stop it.

We feel powerless – I feel it too at times – but we’re not. Who would have thought the world could change this much? We can change it also for the better. The social world we envision is very deeply ingrained in humans, probably through evolution. We are social creatures, not sociopathic.

I think a start is standing up for our human values (honesty, respect, fairness, justice, compassion, humanitarianism, reason, knowledge, etc. etc.- doing the right thing). The Internet has been seen as a different place, an experimental place, where those values don’t matter or don’t apply – we could try something different; it has been like a virutal game world where we can act out being someone different. The experiment is over. It turns out the values do matter (of course, there’s reasons they survive human history) – and they matter more than in the physical world, due to the power of communication on the Internet.

It’s time to stop accepting what we wouldn’t accept at a dinner table or in a professional social situation (or choose your analogy). The Internet is part of IRL, no different than a restaurant. HN, for example, has much improved; I hope it will go further and adopt that concept.

While many employees at Citizen felt the Pacific Palisades incident was a huge mistake, Andrew Frame looked at it differently. While Frame showed some contrition, he sees the bounty experiment as a “massive net win,” a step on the way for his app to become a private safety network that is “going into what the government is failing to do,” which is, in the company’s mind, failing to keep people safe, according to his Slack response to Prince.


Citizen’s culture seems fundamentally rotten and I think I understand why with this CEO.

They should be shut down by government order, because they’re a threat to national security.

I’m serious. Their business is proving to be a direct assault on the right to a fair trial before punishment is dispensed. This is literally taking the crazy Twitter cancel mobs from digital space to meatspace.

About 5 years ago I met these guys when I was building a smart city startup in NYC. We helped cities unify their data from various vendors they use, one of the data streams was a computerized 911 dispatch. Vigilante (at the time) was interested in getting access to the 911 dispatch API. I had a long conversation with them and they couldn’t understand/answer any difficult questions – I was extremely uncomfortable- nevertheless, I took it to a few cities and floated the idea of allowing them to tap in, some cities seemed marginally interested but wanted to provide access to the data with a 10+ minute delay on it so as to prevent ambulance chasing/vigilantism… of course this was useless to them, they needed real time, so they stuck to transcribing 911 dispatch from the radio waves.

Given they couldn’t/wouldn’t ask basic questions about safety, I’m not at all surprised this is happening.

They were pretending to be dense in order to not have to face the truth about their product, or at least to not have to admit to it.

I know this is beside the main point of the article – but the fact that the CEO’s surname is Frame is one of these truth is stranger than fiction moments. If you wrote up a drama about someone writing an app like this and gave the CEO that surname you’d be called a hack.

Well, the app was originally called Vigilante with the goal of enabling… mob justice. So, this really isn’t surprising.

Applying contemporary growth hacking and engagement techniques to making people feel afraid and seek private security is just abominable. LA county is 10 million people – there are going to be all kinds of criminal activities on any given day, but rarely anywhere close to you. The app though will make sure even a minor thing a few miles from you gets you revved up. Just a recipe for more social disfunction.

The worst part is that LA county and city decided to use Citizen for contract tracing during the pandemic, which drove up downloads in the LA: https://covid19.lacounty.gov/covid19-news/la-county-city-lea… – they really need to push back on this vigilante stuff now.

> The staffer who brought up the terms of service violation was ignored in that specific Slack room, and the broadcast continued

This sums up my experience with diverse opinions and observations in tech companies

Why is that interesting?

It’s trivial to screenshot a Slack channel. Or pretty much any other form of communication a business might use.

On that note I often use my ipad to take a picture of my iphone just in case the particular app has screen shot notifications

It’s usually benign stuff, it’s just that you can’t risk having to explain why you ever screenshotted to your friends

To clarify: the bounty was $10-30k for information leading to a specific suspect’s arrest. When I first heard about it, it sounded like the bounty was a ‘dead or alive’ kind of thing.

That the bounty sounded like that is enough to make it harmful and despicable. There are enough wingnuts out there who don’t think about niceties that you can easily have someone jumping in and starting to assault someone who appears to be the wanted person (but probably isn’t).

It doesn’t take explicit assault.

When “The Circle” (minor spoiler alert) demonstrated just how such “crowdsourced chase” scenario can rack up a body count, the target wasn’t attacked – he died because some excited rando fucked up and caused a traffic accident with a camera drone.

It’s not the wingnuts I’d be afraid of. It’s the overexcited normies.

Remember the impact on the victim beyond physical safety, both their reputation and the emotional cost. I hope they sue the f** out of Frame and Citizen.

American HN readers: Is everything alright? It seems a new kind of on-the-edge over there. Does it truly feel unsafe to the extent that people resort to violent and intrusive systems like these?

It’s well documented [fte] that news stories about crime rose in the nineties and beyond, as crime rates fell. Whether the dog wagged the tail or the other way round is hard to say – certainly during this period of crime decline, popular perception that crime is worse remained steadfast [gallup]. News channels may have been merely amplifying what they noticed their audience wanted to hear; or, they created an atmosphere of paranoia because (as now with the Citizen app), it boosts ratings.

Crime is also relatively easy to report, and makes for riveting television. The victims are easy to identify, and interview. There is no complexity because what matters is only the aftermath, rather than what leads up to what ends up being criminal. Perhaps the arsonist in this case was just being exceedingly careless with a campfire BBQ; who cares, when it feels good to find someone to blame them and brand them as “evil”?

The reason the US appears to be “on the edge,” all the time, is that the media loves creating that narrative. If you saw broadcasts that said, “it’s all sorta average here, folks, in fact some things are gradually getting better,” why would you tune in the next day?


fte: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/many-americans-are-conv… gallup: https://news.gallup.com/poll/150464/americans-believe-crime-…

It doesn’t feel unsafe. Apps like this are just people with a violence fetish getting off, not that having a lot of those in your country is particularly pleasant either.

There are a lot of people making money by causing people to be scared. It’s principally one of the strongest business cases for a media outlet. Crime is down significantly on a historical basis, but media consumption is through the roof.

Everything is not alright, but increased crime rates are only a small part of that.

Perception is, generally, very divorced from reality, and people don’t have the fundamental skills to recognize that or cross-check their information.

Citizens are conditioned to believe that police will solve all the crimes from shows like True Crime, CSI, etc.

And when said criminals are such masterminds that even the police can’t catch, they are then conditioned by superhero movies from Marvel, Superman, Batman, etc. that someone should rise up to catch such criminals, this is the end state.

See, every kid is taught and empowered growing up that they should stand up for what’s right. And when the justice system is imperfect, everyone is trying to fix it in the best way they know how. Some are doing it politically, socially, physically, etc.

I showed my boomer parents the actual data and they straight up rejected it. The “society is collapsing into lawlessness” narrative has become very strong.

People reject data (lies, damn lies and statistics). They reject rationalism. They go with their gut, their gut is programmed by the headlines they see

Chances are, they’re using “crime” and “lawlessness” for some group of people they think should be illegal.

That the crime rate has gone down is meaningless when you think more things should be illegal.

It’s better for people to worry if their daughter is going to get raped than for them to question the growing wealth disparity.

Things are so good here (really) that people are freaking out trying to create hobgoblins to fear.

Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world. … But I believe that as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.” – The Matrix

People on the internet are really sensationalist about crime. I think crime rates in some places may be slightly up, but still well below the highs of the 1990s. A different narrative is grabbing people’s attention.

We talk a lot about mobs here. It seems someone has monetized the mob. Not only am I disappointed in the proponents of mobs and call out culture, but I am doubly disappointed in the people who profit from them. Social media, Citizen/Vigilante, to the mainstream news.

We are so lost.

It’s been like this forever. Tribalism is nothing new. We are predisposed to think like this, because our violent and tribal ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago killed off lineages who might have been more predisposed to peaceful, collective thought. Look at the abhorrant acts that charismatic leaders were able to make their fanatics do to other humans throughout history. Ancient times were no different. Fearing the dangerous other may have even meant survival in a warlike time. Humanity went through a bottleneck and we are what emerged bloodied over warring for resources. To fight this natural tendency take serious education in critical thinking to recognize these biases, and root them out.

> It’s been like this forever. Tribalism is nothing new

I don’t think it’s useful to say this. There’s something different about these mobs, and maybe it’s something amorphous like “reach” or the fact that they can feel so close while remaining so far away by invading our devices and mindspace without an opportunity for escape. Other mobs hold and espouse some high morals while acting entirely amorally, which I guess is what makes them look like the mobs of old.

The commonality I’ve read in survivor stories is that the victims had to “disconnect”, which I think people view a bit lightly. That’s a large cost in today’s world. This problem is worth addressing.

> There’s something different about these mobs

I’d say the new thing is just how transient they are. They nucleate around a Tweet or a Citizen-driven manhunt in a matter of minutes or hours, ruin someone’s life, and then disband. There’s no stopping them, because the whole process happens so quickly that the people in the mob are all running on their initial burst of outrage and excitement. By the time they cool down enough to think things through, the deed is done.

> “It plays into people’s anxieties and fears and magnifies people’s fears of the other …

Sound’s like they have a winning formula if Facebook is any indication of successful tech.

> In Slack messages viewed by Motherboard, Frame calls ProtectOS, the system Citizen uses to create incidents and push them out to users, “the most powerful operating system ever created.”

Sounds like the fictional CTOS from the Watch_Dogs games.

> the system Citizen uses to create incidents and push them out to users

Gives me watch dog vibes too. Sounds more like a CRUD app though.

Citizen seemed shady at best from the beginning, but their true colors are showing now. I hope employees leave and that the investors divest.

Perhaps this is a mere symptom of some other problem. In Canada I dont personally recall witnessing crime in my adult life. If I saw someone doing something criminal today I would just you know… call the cops.

Perhaps in the USA the lived experience is somewhat different? Maybe more crime? Maybe the police dont show up?

I also don’t think I witnessed much crime until I moved to Seattle. In the six years I’ve been here though I’ve witnessed:

1. Somebody broke into my Aunt’s place while nobody was home and took some jewelry and a cell phone. Police came by, handed her a form, said nice things for five minutes then took off. Never heard anything about it again.

2. My car window smashed after being parked on the street overnight. I called the police. They pointed me to a website where I could report it so that they could keep track of statistics, but said they don’t investigate individual cases. Never heard anything about it again.

3. I saw someone in a car pulling the key cylinder out and doing a thing that looked like what people do when they hot wire a car in movies (I know I’m surprised this is still a thing, it was an older car). Walked to a safe distance, called the cops. I never heard anything about it again.

4. I saw a person trying to use a screwdriver to pry the lock off a neighbor’s garage as I was walking to the bus. Walked a safe distance, called the police. Never heard anything about it again.

5. People broke into the parking garage at my apartment complex and broke into cars several times. Neighbors called the police. Each time, somebody comes by, hands over a form, says there’s nothing they can do. Never heard anything about it again.

I hate that this app exists. Seems terrible for all the reasons. I’m also not a hard core law-and-order person, and I don’t think the answer is beefing up local law enforcement. But I can also empathize with people who live here and feel unsafe, and are looking for someone who will actually provide some level of security, although I think it’s misguided to turn to this kind of app/service.

> and I don’t think the answer is beefing up local law enforcement.

Yes, I think the number of police and the funding police receive is definitely not the problem here. It doesn’t matter how many cops you have or how many expensive toys those cops have. If the DA refuses to charge the people the police arrest, then the police will stop arresting people because they know it’s a waste of their time. The root of the problem is with the priorities of the electorate and the people they choose to elect (DA is elected in Seattle.)

This is a popular take, but (with respect) I don’t think a more aggressive DA is the answer for the following reasons:

A. The problem is too big to just arrest and charge everybody. There aren’t enough police to track all the petty crime even if you had a DA with an appetite to charge them.

B. Even if you start heavily prosecuting the few people you do have the resources to bring in, this isn’t enough of a deterrent to stop other people who are committing small time property crime. People aren’t doing it simply because they can get away with it, they’re doing it out of desperation.

In my opinion (feel free to disagree) the problem won’t go away until there is real upward mobility for the lowest end of the economic spectrum so that people have something better to do than break into people’s houses, cars and garages. There’s a perverse dynamic where if you have zero money it’s probably easier to be in the city of Seattle than pretty much anywhere else nearby (more shelters, more services and more other people already living in tents and vans). At the same time, the city is incredibly expensive, and there aren’t a lot of entry-level jobs for people trying to get out of poverty, so making the jump from zero to stable seems like it must be really really hard here. So there’s a huge wealth/income gap without any real bridge to get across it which leads to a lot of desperation, and (I think) that has more to do with anything than whatever soft policies in the DA’s office.

The bottleneck in crime is investigation and detectives, which need to be highly skilled and spend a lot of time.

But most peoppe seem to think police = more grunts on the streets with guns. Or lets give them bigger guns. Or give them more power to harrass random passerbies.

You live in Seattle, there’s your main problem. The local government keeps the police department hogtied, cops can’t do much outside of their narrow rules of engagement. On top of that, the city’s residents don’t seem too enthusiastic about the 2nd Amendment either. So who or what is going to protect the flock?? Nothing it seems.

What are the police supposed to do in this situation? If you let them protest unconstrained they will vandalize and loot stores, not to mention block traffic. If you tell them to disperse, they won’t. If you try to politely move them they will resist. Seems like tear gas and moderate physical force is completely warranted.

I agree with you that the police are useless in terms of stopping or punishing most crime though.

What has “hogtied” the police is 30 years of the war on drugs. The framing of citizens as “the flock” is also needlessly condescending. Police are, first and foremost, public servants – not a domestic security force. Following up on the crimes listed in the parent doesn’t require guns, SWAT teams, or no-knock warrants. Just phone calls and paperwork. Unfortunately individuals who think they’re “sheep dogs” find that shit boring.

Vigilantism gets innocent people killed. Cops not showing up, and not investigating, has nothing to do with “rules of engagement,” (law enforcement is not working in a war zone), but is just plain incompetence or refusal to do ones job on behalf of the SPD. That being said, the picture non-US residents get from US law enforcement is basically incompetent neglect of duty anyway.

While driving on Oak in SF last weekend, I saw a man get out of a car, run to an open parked Uhaul truck, grab something, then take off. Right as he left, the (presumed) owner of the stolen articles came out of the house, put his hands up, and made a “Fucking really?” expression. My first reaction was, “Welcome to the Bay Area! Watch your shit!”

Crime is a non-issue in the US. The problem here is a feeling of general helplessness: there are many disturbing trends and quality of life is clearly falling for many, but it’s things like crappy infrastructure that never gets repaired, schools implementing dumb policies, growth in bureaucracy in nearly every facet in life, stagnant wages and declining employment in traditional fields, etc. The symptoms are obvious but the causes are complex and viable cures require cooperation on a scale most now consider unrealistic.

But staying informed feels like it helps, even though it generally doesn’t. And in the particular case of crime, that’s a situation where the actions of individuals could at least in theory make a difference. The benefits to the community of identifying a stolen bike are trivial, and even then you’re very unlikely to ever actually do it, but one can fantasize about heroically saving the day and helping your neighbor and that fantasy scratches the itch we all have to be part of something greater. And if you can find a whole bunch of people who all want to do their part and help, maybe there’s hope that the bigger issues aren’t so intractable after all.

Unfortunately the problem will only get worse until the nation finds a healthy way to deal with the despair. God only knows when or if that’ll happen though.

It depends on the city and it depends on the crime. If you see somebody vandalizing property in Seattle and call the cops, they probably won’t show up (sample size of 3 for me.)

+1. I live in a US suburb and have seen at a distance one violent crime in about 20 years. In Canada I’ve spent more time in the sketchier downtown areas and have personally experienced more crime, although it is still rare. Canadian suburbs are (in my experience) as equally dull as US ones.

That is to say, I have not perceived a difference between the US and Canada wrt crime.

This shit needs to be shut down. All it’s doing is manufacturing a new normal for society to always be on edge and to encourage spying on their neighbors.

Reading this made me think, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an app that just called out people for doing generous/friendly/artistic/impressive things locally?’

I want to try my hand at the n-gate.com summary for this one:

“Some webshits finish The Wire and answer the question we’ve all been wondering since the finale aired: why didn’t the Baltimore Police simply write an app to crowdsource ‘juking the stats’? Citizen (Uber for Reddit’s Boston Bomber Fiasco) is born, but Apple doesn’t have time to review it as they are busy finishing their own dystopian surveillance nightmare– Airtag (Uber for Stalking). Luckily, an American HN arrives to remind everyone that actual crime has been falling since the 90s. Given the low probability of anything bad ever happening in the U.S. due widespread misperception of the truth, HN moves on to a story about adtech delivery speedups on client machines.”

In the finest Star Trek tradition, you’ve earned a commendation for a job well done, and the fact that you violated the Prime Directive will be silently ignored.

Also: “Hackernews”, not “HN”.

> In addition, we are focused on reducing the reach of notifications about violent incidents, and increasing the reach of notifications about incidents such as missing people or pets being reunited with their families—we could all use some more good news.

“We would rather provide engaging info than useful info.” At least they’re honest.

Here’s what I think will happen if their “on-demand protection” service launches: Someone will eventually get killed, they will either shut down that service or completely, then the executive(s) won’t face any charges.

Even Batman had the decency of asking private citizens to not engage in vigilantism.

> “They don’t much care about the accuracy or the usefulness of the information they put out, they just want to push as many notifications to create that feeling of vulnerability that leads people to the subscription services.”

But it’s somehow not a problem when professional “journalists” do it?

When got to about a third of the way through this article, I started to wonder if this was some kind of fictional dystopian thought piece. It is not.

How is this legal? The capacity for this to go wrong and hurt people is so damn high

at the very end:

> Frame said at the all-hands that he is still performing a manhunt for the person Citizen falsely accused, but this time in order to apologize.

> “We need to find this person and we are actively looking to find him. We are not done when it comes to this person,” notes from the all-hands say. “Andrew [Frame] said they are working on that and this has the chance to turn into a very happy moment.”

Someone has a giant ego and doesn’t understand they fucked up. Trying to still find this guy and put a camera in his face…

Wow, even without the strong tone of “hustle” and move fast and break things, there is just so much potential for abuse and/or horrible mistakes.

And that’s without even accounting for the fundamentally fear-based business model.

If we want to fight this, we should find the falsely accused arsonist and crowd-fund him a lawsuit.

This cannot go on

Anyone else think we should jail the entire company in the name of public safety? We have officers who actually work for the government running roughshod over individuals why would we allow corporations to do this?

This attitude is fundamentally incompatible with American (really, all Western) civic values. It goes against what our entire system of law is built on.

> People demand justice, in other words punishment

Not being able to distinguish justice and punishment sounds terrifying. To me this is as fundamental as “innocent until proven guilty”. I am simply not interested in living in a society in which these two notions are confused for each other (and no, I am not privileged rich elite that gets to not be affected by crime).

This is a ridiculous defeatist attitude. What is the point of living in a hellscape like the one you seem to desire (celebrating vigilantism or desiring punishment)? A civilization that focuses on punishing criminals is just a sad place to be in. Crime falls when you work to prevent it and rehabilitate, not when you punish it after the fact. Look at all the countries that have learnt that lesson, that do not punish but rehabilitate and how they did not have a societal collapse or rise in vigilantism, rather they are some of the best places to live in. Sure, there are growing pains when you switch from a medieval attitude of punishment to something more civilized, but your scaremongering is in direct contradiction to the successes of civilizations that embrace rehabilitation and justice (which has nothing to do with punishment).

I’m not celebrating it. It is what it is, vigilantism is coming because we have activist prosecutors who won’t punish criminals. Just roll with it, enjoy the new normal.

Meh… not really.

Our “entire system of law” exists precisely to channel and standardize vengeance and retribution.

When the law breaks down, vigilantism (or, more commonly, protection rackets) will arise.

I prefer law and order. But, let’s not lose sight of why we have “law and order.” Its not to handle criminals… it’s to dissuade ordinary folks from taking matters into their own hands.

Because without those DAs, put in place deliberately by a billionaire, crime rates would not be rising and apps like Citizen would be less necessary.

If you have a police force who cannot prosecute crimes then it seems inevitable that private or individual security will take over.

If this becomes a multi-billion industry, then spending a few million on DAs seems like a reasonable bet.

Of course, society is a lot worse off, so it seems reasonable to question what is going on.

> Why is George Soros funding DAs who refuse to prosecute crimes?

Smells like a conspiracy theory to me. And citing the Washington Times (a paper notable for having a Wikipedia section devoted to its documented history of publishing things sympathetic to white nationalism) is not a reasonable source to cite.

Don’t bring racist conspiracy theories here; that’s not appropriate for conversation.

Citizen’s dangerous effort to cash in on vigilantism

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