RUSH: West Sacramento is in the news. Now, West Sacramento shares something with Rio Linda. I offered to move. When I lived there from 1984 to 1987, I offered to move to both places if they would name the town Limbaugh, California. I offered to move there to raise property values and to create a real estate boom, and the first place I offered was West Sacramento. They rejected it. Rio Linda was next. They rejected it.
Well, West Sacramento’s in the news. They have launched a program. “West Sacramento is the first city to launch a controversial new program that watches what people post about it online. The pilot project gives [West Sacramento] city leaders a look at what’s trending in the city, whether it’s good or bad. It’s also creating privacy concerns around how the data is being used.” So West Sacramento is monitoring social media for people making comments about the city.
And it’s presumed here that if anybody goes online and makes bad comments about West Sacramento, that West Sacramento will let them know. “When a wave of mailbox thefts hit the city last year, people complained about it on social media, and West Sacramento was watching. City leaders were alerted to the community concerns by a new system. ‘We saw the thing that most people were talking about were mailbox thefts,’ said [the mayor].
“‘That’s something that we might not have noticed just by waiting for people to come to city hall or filing a complaint.’ The city is using ZenCity, a system that crawls through publicly available social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It takes all of that data and sorts through to find what people are talking about and whether it’s positive or negative.
“‘The purpose of ZenCity is to see the big picture,’ [the mayor] said.” Okay, now it’s being portrayed here as a good thing. If people complaining about their mailboxes being stolen, we’ll find out about it and we’ll deal with it. But of course that kind of stuff that’s never the end point. What happens if people start tweeting negative things about the mayor’s daughter, or the mayor’s wife, or the mayor himself or herself?