Need to make $200 a day in New York Metropolis? Rush to the scene of a homicide, a three-alarm fireplace or a visitors accident — then pull out your cellphone 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 peculiar residents to do the identical, The Publish has discovered.
Citizen has raised $133 million from high-profile backers like Peter Thiel, in addition to the Silicon Valley enterprise corporations Sequoia Capital and Greycroft, by promising real-time security alerts for customers proper the place they dwell and work.
The overwhelming majority of these alerts, together with movies, seem to return from volunteers who simply occurred to be in the fitting place on the proper time. And that enterprise mannequin — which comes amid declining protection of native information by journalists — saves the corporate cash.
However the app that previously referred to as itself “Vigilante” — and which now boasts greater than 7 million customers throughout 30 cities — can also be quietly recruiting “subject group 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 at the least 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 Avenue. Chris has streamed 1,600 movies which have racked up 1.52 million views, in response to his profile.
Requested about Chris’ frequent streaming on the app, a Citizen spokeswoman acknowledged final week that he works for the corporate.
However, Chris is just not flagged as an worker of Citizen on the app. As an alternative, he seems to be simply one other involved New Yorker.
“Citizen has groups in place in among the cities the place the app is obtainable to show how the platform works, and to mannequin accountable broadcasting practices in conditions when occasions are unfolding in actual time,” the spokeswoman stated.
Citizen says that it doesn’t cover its use of paid subject group members.
The corporate additionally doesn’t publish the roles by itself Site. And Citizen’s title was not included in a since-deleted job posting Thursday on profession board JournalismJobs.com searching for “subject group members” to work for an unnamed “tech firm with user-generated content material.”
“You may be live-streaming out of your cellphone straight to the app, masking the occasion as information,” learn the job itemizing posted by third-party casting company Flyover Leisure.
The posting stated subject group members can be “dispatched” to cowl occasions, together with “canine locked in automobile” or home fires. “Within the occasion that witnesses, police officeials [sic] or different events to interview can be found, you have to take the initiative to interview them for app viewers,” the itemizing added.
New York subject group 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 broaden its subject group to “different prime 10 markets” quickly, the itemizing stated.
Flyover’s proprietor, Michael Yates, wouldn’t verify the itemizing was for Citizen, saying “I’d violate my NDA and so they’d rightfully fireplace me.”
After the posting was faraway from JournalismJobs.com amid questioning by The Publish, a Citizen spokesperson confirmed that Yates had been employed on behalf of the corporate. The spokesperson additionally despatched The Publish a hyperlink to a still-active and almost equivalent itemizing, additionally on JournalismJobs.com.
In June, web tradition web site the Every day Dot reported on Citizen’s use of subject groups in Los Angeles, however the firm’s growth into New York and different areas doesn’t seem to have been beforehand reported.
Citizen has lengthy been controversial. In 2019, New York Metropolis Councilman Justin Brannan slammed the app in a BuzzFeed Information op-ed, accusing Citizen of “scaring the hell out of individuals” for sending out alerts primarily based on 911 calls with out corroboration.
And in Could, Vice reported that Citizen CEO Andrew Body put out a $30,000 reward for info resulting in the arrest of a male arson suspect in Los Angeles, urging workers to “FIND THIS F—Okay” in inner messages — earlier than ascertaining that the person with a bounty on his head was harmless.
Citizen was first launched in 2016 beneath the “Vigilante” moniker, however was kicked off Apple’s App Retailer one week after launch amid criticisms that it inspired vigilantism.
The app relaunched with Apple’s approval in 2017 as Citizen.