Racist or Useful? ‘Sketchy’ App Lets You Rate Neighborhoods

A new app allows users to employ a Yelp-like ratings system to rate, on a scale of five, the so-called “sketchiness” of specific neighborhoods so they can accordingly avoid them.

Needless to say, the app hasn’t escaped controversy; many are pointing out that this ‘sketchy’ app, called SketchFactor, may be a teensy bit racist. The word sketchy and related words used in the app such as “dangerous.” Huffington Post is under the impression that the app encourages white people to fear and avoid neighborhoods populated with mostly Hispanics or black people.

SketchFactor will be available in the iTunes app store starting this coming Monday. Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, the app’s NYC-based creators, announce on their website that they are aware of the complaints and try to combat them.

Sketchiness, according to the app’s blog, means “an event that’s uncomfortable and out of the ordinary.” Like minorities, per chance? The creators have already had to insist that they are in no way racists or bigots.

To quote their argument in their own favor:

We’ve seen the negative press. Setting the record straight: SketchFactor is a tool for anyone, anywhere, at any time.

We have a reporting mechanism for racial profiling, harassment, low lighting, desolate areas, weird stuff, you name it. When people actually download the app, they see that this is truly a tool for everyone.

Supposedly, an upvote-downvote type system will help users keep racist sketchiness ratings from becoming a dominant part of SketchFactor.

What do you think of SketchFactor’s system? Are you with HuffPost and the other critics, or will you be downloading the app when it comes out on Monday?