New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s “social distancing” snitch line is no longer accepting tips on who is and isn’t abiding by the city’s shelter-in-place order after the text-only information center was bombarded with obscene photos and snarky memes, according to reports from the Daily Mail.
De Blasio opened the line last weekend so that nosy New Yorkers could report their friends and neighbors to authorities if they weren’t abiding by the six-foot social distancing rule, were holding parties with more than 2-3 individuals, or were engaging in “non-essential” activities.
But the effort quickly hit a snag when de Blasio posted his announcement on social media, warning people across the country — few of whom are fans of the socialist NYC mayor — that individuals could text photos, in addition to simple information, to city services.
“We will make sure that enforcement comes right away. Text the photo to 311-692 and action will ensue. Enforcement will come to get the help we need,” de Blasio said in his Twitter video. “Look, this is important. I want to keep reminding people: This is about saving lives. Sending that photo in is going to help make sure that people are kept apart and that’s going to stop the disease from spreading and that’s going to save lives.”
In New York City, law enforcement is authorized to issue fines between $250 and $500 for defying the mayor’s bans.
On Tuesday, though, the New York Post reported that de Blasio’s efforts had failed; the 311 text line was inundated with obscene photos of the male anatomy, pictures of New Yorkers holding up their middle fingers, and even news snaps of Bill de Blasio himself working out in a Brooklyn gym and taking a leisurely stroll through a park nowhere near the mayor’s residence.
De Blasio critics “flood[ed] his new tip line with crank complaints including ‘d*ck pics’ and people flipping the bird,” the outlet reported.“Photos of extended middle fingers, the mayor dropping the Staten Island groundhog and news coverage of him going to the gym have all been texted to a special tip line that de Blasio announced Saturday, according to screenshots posted on Twitter.”
The Daily Mail now says the tipline has been “suspended” for maintenance.
“Mayor Bill de Blasio was forced to temporarily close his coronavirus ‘snitch hotline’ over the weekend as the service was inundated with prank calls, pictures of genitalia and memes likening de Blasio to Adolf Hitler,” the U.K. outlet said Thursday.
The city “confirmed” to news outlets that it had closed the line, though they promised it would return.
“This issue has been resolved, but it was not a technical issue on 311’s part,” one city worker said. “The city has now started vetting all of the messages before sending out the information to precincts.”
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