Police Are Using 50,000 Apps To Track and Influence Public Sentiment

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A start-up company called Elucd makes money by measuring public sentiment towards law enforcement.

According to an article in TechCrunch, Michael Simon a former Obama campaign manager, purchases ads on apps like Candy Crush which the NYPD uses to gauge public sentiment in real-time.

“Now [pollsters] can get real-time information on how they’re doing, and it completely changes how they can do their job” Michael Seibel the Y Combinator partner said.

Police call Elucd polls a public sentiment meter…

NYPD Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill is calling the tool a “sentiment meter,” though he is open to suggestions for a better name.

image credit: Elucd

Police in New York City use Elucd to send poll questions to citizens 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How bad can it be?

People could just choose not to use the app, problem solved right?


Wrong, the NYPD polls are on more than one app.

Police use 50,000 apps to spy on citizens

Unfortunately, Elucd uses more than 50,000 apps to measure public sentiment.

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According to the NY Times, Elucd uses location (tracking) technology to ask citizens questions like,

Do you feel safe in your neighborhood? Do you trust the police? Are you confident in the New York Police Department? 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The questions stream out every day, around the clock, on 50,000 different smartphone applications and present themselves on screens as eight-second surveys.

What they are really saying is Elucd and law enforcement are using 50,000 apps to spy on people in real-time.

One should assume that law enforcement could use Elucd’s data to identify individual cell phone users. As TechCrunch revealed, the NYPD is keeping all the data they collect a secret.

Elucd hopes that police departments across the country will use Elucd to gauge people’s sentiments.

“The fact that they’ve got NYPD first, and that’s a model police force  for the country… You get them… and it makes every sale after it easier,” Seibel says.

How long will it be before everyone is required to respond to a police departments’ questions?  Will citizens be given threat assessments based on their responses? Will police detain and question citizens who give them negative responses?

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Because this is America and law enforcement has become an image business much like a sports team, they are worried about the public’s perception of them.

Law enforcement uses surveys to influence public sentiment

image credit: Hawaii Independent

An excerpt from Elucd’s Data Scientist job openings section reveals how the government could use their polls to influence public sentiment about law enforcement.

We are tackling one of the most important issues of our time — the relationship between governments and the communities that they serve, starting with policing. Success for us means impact on hundreds of millions of people around the U.S. and billions around the world.

An article in Medium revealed how law enforcement could use Elucd’s polls to change the “public’s trust and perceptions of policing.”

If you have any doubts about law enforcement trying to influence public sentiment read my article “FCC creates national Blue Alert system just in time for the holidays” or read about the FBI’s free media relations course that is designed to “promote a consistent, positive public image of your department, your community will come to perceive their police as an agency they can depend on and trust.”

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I would not be surprised to find out that the FBI suggested police departments acquire ice cream trucks to influence public sentiment. (Click here to read more.)

American law enforcement needs more than polls, media centers, and ice cream trucks to change public sentiment.

You can read more from MassPrivateI, where this article first appeared.

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