Mayor Bill de Blasio has temporarily suspended New York City’s coronavirus text service that allowed people to report on residents violating social distancing. As reported by The New York Post, the move comes after the 311 text line was flooded with penis pictures, photos of middle fingers, and Hitler memes.
“This issue has been resolved, but it was not a technical issue on 311’s part,” mayoral spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said of the backlog of prank messages sent to the service.
“We will fight this tyrannical overreach!” one user sent to the hotline.
Another sent a Hitler meme that compared New Yorkers using the service to the Nazi regime.
“TO THOSE TURNING IN YOUR NEIGHBORS AND LOCAL BUSINESSES — YOU DID THE REICH THING.”
As reported by The Next Web, it’s unclear if the backlash was from New York City residents or people from outside of the city that were simply unhappy with de Blasio’s decision to create the hotline. Despite the prank messages, the hotline has reportedly received over 14,000 legitimate reports. However, The Next Web claims that “hardly any” people in violation of social distancing rules have faced any legal action.
As The Inquisitr reported, New York state previously took the lead for the most coronavirus cases in the world, topping all individual countries outside of the U.S. As of now, the state has confirmed 251,690 cases, topping Spain, which is second in the world behind the U.S.
More Americans died today in New York City of the Coronavirus than died in Afghanistan over the past 5 years. The President needs to get serious about this pandemic now. It is only going to get worse. pic.twitter.com/xa1q2Udmat
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) March 26, 2020
New York City’s approach to tackling coronavirus mirrors other regions of the world that have been experimenting with mobile software that track cases. In China, residents have access to an app that notifies users if they were in contact with coronavirus-afflicted people in February. According to the publication, the service was providing data to local police. In addition, Russia and India reportedly have or are developing similar apps, and privacy issues have been at the forefront of concern.
In the United States, Apple and Google are allegedly working together to create a “contact tracing approach” that will utilize “strong controls and protections for user privacy.”
According to Global News, Australia is encouraging its residents to use a coronavirus-tracking phone app as the country’s death toll continues to rise.
“We will be seeking the cooperation and support of Australians to download the app to help our health workers, to protect our community and help get our economy going again,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted on Saturday.
The app, which is not mandatory, will track movement and allow the government to follow possible new COVID-19 outbreaks.