I read this article about police asking people to tweet pictures of parking violations so that they can accrue fines. Extending the abilities of the policing agents of society through tips by individuals has long been a major part of most societies. However in the past it has been abused the prime example I can think of is communist nation where one never knew if ones neighbors were working for the secret police. What are the ethical and social consequences of a society in which anyone can be a "nark"? What happens when certain citizens are ignored in favor of others? How does this affect the social-contract?
This question ties to another debate on status of citizens journalism and journalist in the emerging new media ecology. While the advantages are many, when citizens take on first hand reporting, I think less attention is paid to the risks involved in citizens reporting. One assumption that runs through this discourse on citizens journalist is that, citizens or 'common people' can represent the genuine voice of the people. What is ignored is that citizens can be just as motivated as elites to misrepresent social issues. Apart from the psychological trappings of motivated cognition, citizens can seek to resolve their local/personal conflicts through distorted forms of communication. Citizens operating in a social force field ripe with conflicts over space, time, resources etc,are just as liable for biases-conscious as well as unconscious as the members of the establishment. I sense a populist bent when scholars talk about empowering citizens through community media or citizens journalism, without subjecting them to standards that we use to judge mainstream media. The case with police requesting citizens support in providing leads for violations/crimes,is a case fraught with similar risks.