Man with headphones inset for Citizen app interview (l) same man in mask and backwards hat (c) same man wearing crystal necklace (r)

Citizen

Citizen app is faking local residents in Los Angeles

Landon sure seems to be everywhere.

 

Eric Levai

Tech

Published Jun 29, 2021   Updated Jun 29, 2021, 6:50 pm CDT

A “random” man named Landon was interviewed by the Citizen app’s live show during two unrelated broadcasts on Wednesday, June 23 in Los Angeles.

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But is he just a local resident? Or marketing for the app that wants to turn every city denizen into a cop?

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Citizen is a smartphone app that monitors police scanners to create localized alerts about crime, and also allows users to report suspicious activity in their neighborhood. While it tries to create an appearance of omnipresent security, it is just as frequently vigilante surveillance gone wrong. 

Man being interviewed on Citizen app
Citizen

Landon might have been written off as a coincidence—one man happening upon two different crime scenes during a day—but the Daily Dot subsequently discovered six additional videos of Landon broadcasting from other public emergencies, calling into question whether he just so happens to be the “random citizen” the app portrays him as.  

Landon has been live on Citizen’s official website frequently, on the scene at a shooting, a house fire, and a person stuck inside an elevator, among many other crime scenes.  

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Various photos of the same man in different locations
Citizen


Landon appeared at 9am PT last Wednesday on Citizen’s live broadcast, during a search for a man brandishing a sword at Western Avenue and 3rd Street in Los Angeles. He was interviewed by Citizen’s host, Rob.

Citizen
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Four hours later, he showed up at Wilshire Boulevard and Ridgeley Drive, three miles from the first incident, and was again interviewed by the live show’s host, Rob, during a search for a suspect who was believed to have shot another person. Rob strangely did not seem to recognize or acknowledge the fact that he was interviewing the same person during two different incidents within the same four hours on Wednesday. 

Those two incidents prompted the Daily Dot to search where else Landon, the “random” citizen who just happens to show up at crime scenes, might be. The Daily Dot then discovered plenty of additional videos of Landon on Citizen’s website:

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In all the videos, he is portrayed as a regular Citizen user, “Landon1129,” broadcasting from different “breaking news” events around Los Angeles, while attempting to interview first responders and witnesses.

Unrecorded

While it remains possible that the same man could appear during eight different “breaking news” stories, they occur across a wide stretch of Los Angeles neighborhoods, spanning over 30 miles and it’s impossible to ignore Landon’s unmistakable enthusiasm for Citizen’s app, which might belie any belief he just happens to be a guy who loves following crime scenes. 

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And while speaking to people during his broadcasts, he repeatedly interjects, “I’m live on the Citizen App!”

Citizen, when reached by the Daily Dot, would not answer specific on-the-record questions about Landon. However, after presented with his repeated appearances, the company issued the following statement.  

“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,” a spokesperson said. “We believe these teams will ultimately help guide our users on how to broadcast in an effective, helpful, and safe way. Landon is a part of this team.”

Citizen has been working to get a live broadcast function off the ground, most notably when it aired a vigilante hunt for the wrong man. Having these “citizens” on the ground would surely enhance the show’s aura and the app’s omnipresence. Until you realize they are the app’s own efforts at marketing itself.

The app also recently misindentified an airport training exercise as a plane crash.

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*First Published: Jun 29, 2021, 8:14 am CDT