<p>Close up of Tourist using GPS map navigation on smartphone application screen for direction to destination address in the city with travel and technology concept.</p>

Close up of Tourist using GPS map navigation on smartphone application screen for direction to destination address in the city with travel and technology concept.

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The app Citizen is paying users $25-an-hour in New York City to pull out their phones, film, and report on crimes that occur.

Citizen is a neighborhood watch app that has been discreetly recruiting New York locals to broadcast and photograph public emergencies and crime scenes in order to inspire ordinary people to participate.

By providing real-time safety notifications for users precisely where they live and work, the app received $133 million from a number of high-profile investors, including Sequoia Capital, a Silicon Valley venture firm, and German-American billionaire Peter Thiel.

Many of the videos have been published by volunteers who happened to be in the presence of the incident at that moment in time.

And that economic strategy, which comes at a time when journalists are covering less local news, saves the company money.

When it comes to alerts, a Citizen spokesperson told indy100 the following: “All of the alerts you see in the app are generated by Citizen's 24/7 team of analysts. The team uses proprietary technology to monitor 911 communications, reviewing every alert in real-time before you receive it.”

Citizen, which once went by the name “Vigilante“ and has over 7 million users in 30 cities, is also looking for “field team members” to work on journalistic job sites and travel about the city documenting emergencies.

According to The New York Post, a Citizen app user named Chris, who goes by the handle @cgutter_, spent his Thursday riding his bike throughout the Bronx, responding to at least six different crises, including a gory bus collision on Morris Avenue and a report of gunshots on East 175th Street.

According to his profile, Chris has streamed 1,600 videos that have received 1.52 million views.

When The Post questioned Chris’ frequent uploads to the app, a spokeswoman for Citizen admitted that he does work for the company.

Despite that, he’s not flagged as an employee of Citizen. He seems to be a New Yorker that wants to do right by residents.

“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 told the outlet.

Citizen claims that it does not disguise the fact that it employs paid field team members.

The corporation also does not list these particular job openings on its own website. In addition, Citizen’s name wasn’t included in a since-deleted job advertisement Thursday on the professional site JournalismJobs.com seeking “field team members” to work for an undisclosed “tech company with user-generated content.”

According to the job description given by third-party casting agency Flyover Entertainment, “you will be live-streaming from your phone straight to the app, covering the event as news.”

Field team members in New York have the potential to earn $200 per day for eight-hour shifts, while workers in Los Angeles can expect to earn $250 per day for ten-hour shifts. According to the advertisement, Citizen intends to expand its field staff to “other top 10 markets” in the near future.

Michael Yates, the proprietor of Flyover, refused to confirm the listing was for Citizen, noted that he’d break his “NDA and they’d rightfully fire” him, the outlet reported.

After the job advertising was deleted from JournalismJobs.com after The Post questioned it, a Citizen spokeswoman verified that Yates was hired on the company’s behalf. The representative also forwarded the outlet a job link to a similar listing on JournalismJobs.com.

Citizen has a fairly tumultuous history.

In 2019, Justin Brannan, a New York City Councilman, criticized the app in a BuzzFeed News op-ed, accusing it of scaring “the hypervigilant sh**” out of people as the app pinged warnings based on 911 calls with official confirmation.

In May, VICE reported that Citizen CEO Andrew Frame offered a $30,000 prize for any information leading to the arrest of a male arson suspect in Los Angeles, persuading staff to use the phrase “FIND THIS F—K” in internal messages.

Following that, he observed that the man who had a bounty placed on him was innocent.

As expressed earlier, Citizen was first released under the name “Vigilante” in 2016 but was ultimately given the boot off of Apple’s App Store one week prior to its release date due to criticisms that it would provoke vigilantism.

The following year in 2017, the app rebranded as Citizen with Apple’s acceptance.

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