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How Citizen Surveillance Might Be Killing San Francisco

There was a time when I would travel to San Francisco every week for a client meeting. During that moment of my career, I felt so close to the city and the people there that I attended the team holiday party for our SF office rather than the one for my “home” office in Washington DC. I haven’t had reason to be back in the city for more than a year. In that time, I’ve been hearing plenty of stories about it. How the city is worse, crime is higher and some spots are unrecognizable. 

How much of the stories are true and how much exaggerated? An article I read this week suggests that part of the city’s problem might be the rampant “citizen surveillance” happening on the streets that allows the city to share every negative interaction instantly via the web. And there is a temptation to share the negative ones, because they predictably get so much engagement. 

So, the tech makes it easy to make disturbing portrayals of the city go viral, and the reputation of the city suffers. Is it really as bad as those videos make it seem? Or do we just need more people to share positive footage to balance it all out? 

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Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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