Citizen app's $30k reward strays towards vigilante justice

Fear-mongering Citizen app apparently stepped up from crime pronouncement to vigilantism this weekend when they offered a $30k reward for information about a gentleman they believed to be an arsonist responsible for starting a large fire.

It is pretty clear local law enforcement didn't ask for this assistance and that sharing of the photo could easily have endangered the "suspect," or in this case victim, especially as requested in the quote below.


They believe an arsonist may have started the blaze and currently have two suspects detained for questioning. But that's not before users of the Citizen app led to someone being detained without sufficient evidence. Citizen is a phone app that sends users real-time, location-based safety alerts when crimes and other potentially dangerous events happen in their area. On Sunday, the app sent Los Angeles users a photograph of a man purportedly suspected of starting the fire, along with the promise of a cash reward for providing information.

"Citizen is offering a $30,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest of the arson suspect," the notification said. Cerise Castle, a journalist following along as broadcasters on the app talked about the fire, tweeted that they were "repeating unsubstantiated 'tips' as facts and asking people to 'hunt this guy down'. One of the tips just played out in air as being a lie."

Police found and detained the man pictured in the Citizen notification, Devin Hilton, late Sunday night, a Los Angeles County lieutenant told Spectrum news reporter Kate Cagle. After interviewing him, cops didn't actually have enough evidence to charge him with a crime and let him go shortly afterward. The lieutenant told Cagle that the effects of Citizen issuing notifications like this could have potentially "disastrous" consequences for those wrongly named.

My Citizen feed is filled with stuff like this.