Thin-skinned officials in Naples, Italy have set up a website and formal reporting process designed to sue people who mock their city.
The “Defend the City” project was launched this week by the mayor of Naples and promises to defend the “dignity, image and reputation” of the area.
Locals are encouraged to fill out a form on a government website which lets them identify “prejudice, stereotypes and harmful generalizations” about the city.
They can refer to newspaper articles, TV shows or social media posts which are disobliging about the municipality.
The aim, according to mayor Luigi de Magistris, is to take the most serious cases to court and extract big payouts which can then fund public spending.
In less serious cases they will merely seek apologies and clarifications.
It is not clear exactly what kind of slights Naples is looking to counteract – though it could be linked to the prevalent regional stereotype that Neapolitans are over-emotional thieves with strong links to the mafia.
However, many Neapolitans were far from convinced. According to Italian news site TheLocal.it, critics raised concerns about the project’s potential to bring about censorship, and distract from failings of the mayor’s administration.
Giovanni Natale said: “This initiative needs to be carefully evaluated. What counts as ‘defaming Naples’? Who decides who and what to report?”
Federica Cerami added: “Who will pay for this? How shameful. They should think about getting to work instead of wasting time on dictatorial initiatives.”