Citizen’s volunteer ‘safety’ app unintentionally doxxes singer Billie Eilish | Engadget

Citizen, the provocative crime-reporting app previously generally known as Vigilante, is within the information once more for all of the mistaken causes. On Thursday night, it doxxed singer Billie Eilish, publishing her handle to hundreds of individuals after an alleged housebreaking at her house.

Shortly after the break-in, the app notified customers of a break-in in Los Angeles’ Highland Park neighborhood — together with the house’s handle. As reported by Vice, Citizen’s message was up to date at 9:41 PM to state that the home belonged to Eilish. According to Citizen’s metrics, the alert was despatched to 178,000 folks and considered by almost 78,000. On Friday morning, Citizen up to date the app’s description of the incident, changing the exact handle with a close-by cross-street.

Although celeb house addresses are sometimes publicly accessible (normally on seedy web sites specializing in such invasive nonsense), a well-liked app pushing the house handle of one in all pop music’s largest stars to hundreds of customers is… new. Unfortunately, it’s additionally simply the most recent probably damaging transfer from Citizen.

When Citizen launched as Vigilante in 2016, Apple shortly pulled the title from the App Store primarily based on considerations about its encouraging customers to thrust themselves into harmful conditions. So it rebranded as Citizen with a brand new concentrate on security, and Apple re-opened its gates. The app started advising customers to keep away from incidents in progress whereas offering instruments to assist these caught in a harmful scenario. Although that sounds affordable, at the very least one episode reveals an overzealousness firm prioritizing consideration and revenue over social accountability.


In May 2021, CEO Andrew Frame ordered the launch of a reside stream, encouraging the app’s customers to search out a suspected wildfire arsonist (primarily based on a tip from an LAPD sergeant and emails from residents questioned by police). He supplied a $10,000 bounty for locating the suspect, which grew to $30,000 later within the night. As the hunt continued, the CEO reportedly grew extra frantic, with one in all his inner Slack conversations encouraging the crew to “get this guy before midnight” in an ecstatic, all-caps message.

A staffer was ignored in a Slack chat after they warned the crew about breaking the app’s phrases of service, which prohibit “posting of specific information that could identify parties involved in an incident.” When police introduced that night time that they’d made an arrest, the crew celebrated, believing their feverish hunt for notability had led to the seize. The solely downside? Citizen had the mistaken man. In Frame’s obvious eagerness to legitimize his app’s goal with a high-profile citizen arrest, he positioned a public bounty on a wrongfully accused suspect.

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