'“MY PACKAGE THIEF HAS BEEN ARRESTED!!!,” reads a post on Neighbors, a “neighborhood watch” social network run by Ring, which is a home security systems company owned by Amazon.
The post shows two side-by-side images: one is of a man as captured on a home security camera, and the other is of someone who appears to be the same man, as photographed in a mugshot.
“This man stolen my packages along with my neighbors packages on 1/14/19 and I’m happy to report that he was arrested on 2/3/19 by the NYPD,” the post caption reads. The comments universally congratulate the person who posted the images.
Neighbors defines itself as a “new neighborhood watch,” according to its website. But on a more practical level, Neighbors is like NextDoor, a social platform for local communities, if the posts on NextDoor were only reports of crime or “suspicious activity.” NextDoor has faced long-standing issues of racism on its platform, and Ring faces the same issue. Each Neighbors post has one of the following labels: Crime, Safety, Suspicious, Stranger, or Lost Pet. Ring captures footage that can help leads to arrests when that footage is shared with police, like in the case described above.
Neighbors is not just a social media app: it’s a service that’s meant to be used with Ring security cameras, a Wi-Fi-powered home security company that was acquired by Amazon last February in a $1 billion deal. Neighbors was launched in May 2018, three months after the acquisition. If you have Ring security cameras, you can upload video content straight from your security camera to Neighbors. And if you download Neighbors and invite a friend to join the app, both you and your friend get $10 off Ring security products—which include doorbell video cameras, floodlight video cameras, and in-home security cameras.
Beyond creating a "new neighborhood watch," Amazon and Ring are normalizing the use of video surveillance and pitting neighbors against each other. Chris Gilliard, a professor of English at Macomb Community College who studies institutional tech policy, told Motherboard in a phone call that such a “crime and safety” focused platforms can actively reinforces racism.'
Read more: Amazon’s Home Security Company Is Turning Everyone Into Cops
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