New App Rating Neighborhood ‘Sketchiness’ Could Encourage Racial Profiling

Racist app rates neighborhood sketchiness

Source: Facebook

A new app called SketchFactor became available on iTunes on Friday and has sparked serious concerns that the app promotes racial profiling of different neighborhoods around the U.S.

The two white co-creators of the app, Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, say it is supposed to help people avoid “sketchy” areas and identify whether people who have been in the area have had problems with drugs, catcalling or other uncomfortable situations.

The app will gather public information to use in the neighborhoods’ “sketchiness” ratings, but the app will mainly rely on rating system that is very similar to what you might see on websites such as Yelp or even Amazon product reviews.

People who use the app will be able to select neighborhoods and areas, and rate the “relative sketchiness” on a five-point scale.

The problem is that the Team SketchFactor blog only defines “sketchiness” as “an event that’s uncomfortable and out of the ordinary.”

Concerns have sparked that a majority of the app’s white users will find predominantly minority neighborhoods as being “uncomfortable” and “out of the ordinary.”

Sam Biddle, the editor of Gawker’s tech-gossip site Valleywag, shared his own criticisms of the app on the blog.

“Is there any way to keep white people from using computers, before this whole planet is ruined,” the white tech guru questioned.

Meanwhile, the app’s creators are standing firm and defending their creation against claims of racism.

“Even though Dan and I are admittedly both young, white people, the app is not built for us as young, white people,” McGuire told Crain’s New York.

She also admitted to HuffPost that she expected the app to spark controversy, but she believes there is much more good that can come from the app than bad.

“But let’s turn this on its head,” she added. “This can really shed light on some interesting things happening in cities all over the U.S.”

She also said that the point of the app is to “give a voice to the voiceless” by providing “a voice to anyone with a smartphone.”

According to Crain’s New York, the app gained momentum thanks to the BigApps competition.

“As one of the finalists in the BigApps competition, SketchFactor is poised to receive more attention when it launches,” Crain’s reported. “The founders are also bracing for potential complications from an app that asks anonymous users to judge a neighborhood’s sketchiness. After all, fear can be subjective.”

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