Sacramento Launches Controversial Program To Track Citizen’s Social Media Posts


One California city is touting the early results of a new program allowing leaders to keep tabs on the local issues being discussed among residents online.

As KOVR reported, though, the social media monitoring service has also sparked backlash among some critics who see the potential for abuse of personal information.

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon defended his city’s first-in-the-nation introduction of Zencity, a keyword monitoring program, last year.

He said city officials are now able to pinpoint areas of concern among residents earlier than if they waited until people started complaining in person. Shortly after it was rolled out, he said the system alerted the city to a rash of mailbox thefts.

“We saw the thing that most people were talking about were mailbox thefts,” Cabaldon said. “That’s something that we might not have noticed just by waiting for people to come to city hall or filing a complaint.”

The system scans public posts on popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Cabaldon said the system then “uses artificial intelligence to spider through it and see, OK, what are people talking about, what are the key words, what are the key themes, what are the key topic areas.” – READ MORE

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