Singer Billie Eilish doxxed by crime app: How to avoid the same fate

The popular crime-reporting app Citizen, designed to keep you safe by sending alerts about “public safety,” is again under fire after releasing the private home address of Grammy-award-winning pop star Billie Eilish.

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This is not the first time the app has been criticized for major mistakes, and people are beginning to worry about whether the app is safe.

Billie Eilish’s home addressed was released on the Citizen app.
(@billieeilish)

How did Billie Eilish’s address get released?

Eilish’s Los Angeles residence was broken into on Jan. 5. Shortly after the incident, the Citizen app notified users of a burglary in the Highland Park area as a safety precaution for those nearby. 

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However, the message was then updated at 9:41 p.m., stating that the home belonged to the famous singer and posted the exact address. The app did remove the exact address the following morning and replaced it with a nearby cross street. 

According to the stats posted to the Citizen app, the news reached up to 178,000 people, and at least 78,000 people viewed it. However, the person responsible for the burglary was caught and arrested by the LAPD that same night.

Why was Citizen able to post the exact address?

The Citizen app needs access to a user’s location data to function properly and notifies them when a crime is committed nearby. They have a lengthy privacy policy on their website. 

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They explain that they only use your geolocation data to “send you safety notifications for incidents reported near you, share your locations with friends you are connected to on the platform, and provide and improve our services.”

However, this is only supposed to apply to users on the app, not victims involved with reported crimes. So, it needs to be clarified why or how Eilish’s address was made public. Although it is common for celebrity addresses to be searchable on the internet, it hasn’t been pushed on a popular app to thousands of people before. 

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Eilish’s home is blurred on Google Maps, suggesting she does want to maintain some semblance of privacy.

Read on to learn how to stay safe on the Citizen app.

Read on to learn how to stay safe on the Citizen app.

If I’m a Citizen user, how can I protect myself?

We understand why people would want to keep using Citizen because it does have some very helpful features (get it here: iOSAndroid). The whole point of the app is to warn people of dangerous situations happening around them while also urging people not to get themselves involved and allow law enforcement to do their job. With that said, here are some ways you can keep yourself safe on the Citizen app:

  • Turn off Precise Location for Citizen
    Go to your Settings app
    Scroll down to Citizen

    Under ALLOW CITIZEN TO ACCESS select Location

    Toggle off the Precise Location option.

  • Go to your Settings app
  • Scroll down to Citizen
  • Under ALLOW CITIZEN TO ACCESS select Location
  • Toggle off the Precise Location option.
  • Only allow Citizen access to your location while using the app
    Go to your Settings app
    Scroll down to Citizen

    Under ALLOW CITIZEN TO ACCESS select Location

    Select While Using the App.

  • Go to your Settings app
  • Scroll down to Citizen
  • Under ALLOW CITIZEN TO ACCESS select Location
  • Select While Using the App.
  • Do not give your exact address to the appCitizen may ask you when setting up the app for your exact address so that it can more closely monitor crime happening near you. If this makes you uncomfortable, do not share.
  • Citizen may ask you when setting up the app for your exact address so that it can more closely monitor crime happening near you. If this makes you uncomfortable, do not share.

What do you think of the Citizen app, and what has your experience been like using it? We’d love to hear from you.

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