Want to know why we can’t have nice things? Because apparently, the public — or at least parts of New York — is not to be trusted.
Eight months after the appearance of the first LinkNYC hubs, which are — or were — internet kiosks meant to help bring the Big Apple into the 21st century, the city has taken a step back. Some of these kiosks were not used to “save data on their mobile plans, call relatives across the country, and get a much-needed quick charge” as they were originally intended. Instead, they were used to watch pornography.
Per an announcement from the LinkNYC team, “We … know that some users have been monopolizing the Link tablets and using them inappropriately, preventing others from being able to use them while frustrating the residents and businesses around them. The kiosks were never intended for anyone’s extended, personal use and we want to ensure that Links are accessible and a welcome addition to New York City neighborhoods.” Which, as it turns out, they were not, particularly along Manhattan’s 8th Avenue, where abuse of the kiosks was particularly rampant.
The decision was released shortly after Motherboard published its own report examining the prevalence of homeless men stationing themselves in front of the LinkNYC hubs to use the internet. Evidently, the hubs have also become hotspots for public drinking and drug use — the opposite of the hubs’ original intention to “improve the quality of life.”
“As New Yorkers ourselves, we want LinkNYC to provide the best possible experience for Link users and the communities around them,” LinkNYC said. As of Wednesday, that includes, “removing web browsing on all Link tablets while we work with the City and community to explore potential solutions, like time limits” that mitigate some of the problems the hubs are experiencing.
“Other tablet features — free phone calls, maps, device charging, and access to 311 and 911 — will continue to work as they did before, and nothing is changing about LinkNYC’s superfast Wi-Fi,” the team notes. “As planned, we will continue to improve the Link experience and add new features for people to enjoy while they’re on the go.”