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Citizen pays New Yorkers $25 an hour to livestream crime scenes

Want to make $200 a day in New York City? Rush to the scene of a homicide, a three-alarm fireplace or a site visitors accident — then pull out your telephone and begin taking pictures.

That’s the pitch from Citizen, a controversial neighborhood watch app that’s quietly hiring New Yorkers to livestream crime scenes and different public emergencies in an obvious effort to encourage extra atypical residents to do the identical, The Post has realized.

Citizen has raised $133 million from high-profile backers like Peter Thiel, in addition to the Silicon Valley enterprise companies Sequoia Capital and Greycroft, by promising real-time security alerts for customers proper the place they reside and work.



The overwhelming majority of these alerts, together with movies, seem to come from volunteers who simply occurred to be in the best place on the proper time. And that business mannequin — which comes amid declining protection of native information by journalists — saves the company money.

Street scene of crisis with firefighters and fire trucks
News reported by Citizen ranges from small emergencies like a canine locked in a automotive all the best way up to large-scale occasions like fires.
Getty Images

But the app that previously known as itself “Vigilante” — and which now boasts greater than 7 million customers throughout 30 cities — can be quietly recruiting “field team members” on journalism job websites to run across the metropolis chasing emergencies.

A consumer named Chris who goes by @cgutter_, spent Thursday biking across the Bronx to no less than six totally different emergencies, together with a bloody bus wreck on Morris Avenue and a report of gunshots on East one hundred and seventy fifth Street. Chris has streamed 1,600 movies which have racked up 1.52 million views, in accordance to his profile.

Photo of a Citizen street team member identified only as Chris
Citizen avenue crew member Chris has racked up 1.52 million views on 1,600 movies.

Asked about Chris’ frequent streaming on the app, a Citizen spokeswoman acknowledged final week that he works for the company. 

Nevertheless, Chris will not be flagged as an worker of Citizen on the app. Instead, he seems to be simply one other involved New Yorker. 

“Citizen has teams in place in some of the cities where the app is available to demonstrate how the platform works, and to model responsible broadcasting practices in situations when events are unfolding in real time,” the spokeswoman mentioned.

Citizen says that it doesn’t conceal its use of paid area crew members.

The company additionally doesn’t publish the roles by itself Web web site. And Citizen’s identify was not included in a since-deleted job posting Thursday on career board JournalismJobs.com searching for “field team members” to work for an unnamed “tech company with user-generated content.” 

“You will be live-streaming from your phone straight to the app, covering the event as news,” learn the job itemizing posted by third-party casting company Flyover Entertainment.

The posting mentioned area crew members can be “dispatched” to cover occasions, together with “dog locked in car” or home fires. “In the event that witnesses, police officeials [sic] or other parties to interview are available, you must take the initiative to interview them for app viewers,” the itemizing added.

New York area crew members stand to make $200 per day for eight-hour shifts, whereas staff in Los Angeles are provided $250 per day for 10-hour shifts. Citizen plans to increase its area crew to “other top 10 markets” quickly, the itemizing mentioned. 

A police car with flashing lights
Citizen’s area crew members run round New York and Los Angeles filming crime scenes and different emergencies.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Flyover’s proprietor, Michael Yates, wouldn’t affirm the itemizing was for Citizen, saying “I’d violate my NDA and they’d rightfully fire me.” 

After the posting was faraway from JournalismJobs.com amid questioning by The Post, a Citizen spokesperson confirmed that Yates had been employed on behalf of the company. The spokesperson additionally despatched The Post a hyperlink to a still-active and nearly identical listing, additionally on JournalismJobs.com. 

An accident involving a car and a semi
An picture of a automotive wreck on the Cross-Bronx Expressway from one in all Chris’ Citizen streams.

In June, web tradition web site the Daily Dot reported on Citizen’s use of field teams in Los Angeles, however the company’s enlargement into New York and different areas doesn’t seem to have been beforehand reported.

Citizen has lengthy been controversial. In 2019, New York City Councilman Justin Brannan slammed the app in a BuzzFeed News op-ed, accusing Citizen of “scaring the hell out of people” for sending out alerts primarily based on 911 calls with out corroboration. 

And in May, Vice reported that Citizen CEO Andrew Frame put out a $30,000 reward for data main to the arrest of a male arson suspect in Los Angeles, urging staff to “FIND THIS F—K” in inside messages — earlier than ascertaining that the person with a bounty on his head was harmless. 

Citizen was first launched in 2016 underneath the “Vigilante” moniker, however was kicked off Apple’s App Store one week after launch amid criticisms that it inspired vigilantism.

The app relaunched with Apple’s approval in 2017 as Citizen.


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