This unintentionally racist app wants to show you where the nicer side of town is

ghettotracker ghetto tracker

One of the challenges every person on the road has to face is knowing where to go, and whether or not it’s OK to go there. Safety in travel should always be a prerequisite when you’re someplace new to you, so when a new site emerges and offers you a way to consult with locals on which areas to stick to and which ones to avoid, it ought to be a great service, right? In essence yes, but if the site is called GhettoTracker, you are bound to run into some problems.

Before the site changed its name to Good Part of Town, GhettoTracker accumulated a lot of negative feedback from those who didn’t appreciate what the initial homepage suggested: “We use a rating system that allows locals and people familiar with the area rate which parts of town are safe and which ones are ghetto, or unsafe.” That statement was accompanied by a fun-loving, Caucasian family:

ghettotracker-original homepage

OK, we get it. By safe, you mean racially, right GhettoTracker? That’s what most people commenting in the Hacker News page linking the offensive site are asking. Never mind that the site is not really based on factual crime statistics and mostly on people’s perceptions of places. People were… displeased, to say the least. To try and fix the mishap, the site re-launched with the new name Good Part of Town, and with a new poster family:

ghettotracker-relaunch homepage

In fact, just to cover all bases, the photo changed every time you refreshed the About page – sometimes it also showed a Latino family and an older Caucasian couple. All is fine and dandy, right? Nope, not quite. While Good Part of Town’s Twitter page reads like this:

goodpartoftown-twitter

…GhettoTracker’s Twitter page looks like this:

ghettotracker-twitter

Those are only some of the things the Tumblr blog Public Shaming was able to observe and smartly screengrab before GhettoTracker…I’m sorry, Good Part of Town could clean house. At some point after that, the creator of Good Part of Town thought his idea was no longer worth the trouble and deleted it. It has since gone back up, and Gawker was able to screengrab its Coming Soon page that said, “We’re revamping the site to make it even better. Please check back soon!” with a quote from USA Tourist to make their claim of aiding unsure travelers sound more legit. 

The creator of the site (who many believe to be Casey Smith, the president of a Florida-based company named Tallahassee Web Design) wrote Gawker writer Nitasha Tiku to try and explain why he made the site, why he decided to change the name, and why – contrary to popular belief – he isn’t a bigot or a racist (you can read the entire email transcript here):

I am not concerned about racial implications between good areas and bad areas. If a certain part of town has a lot of crime and is considered a bad area, I can’t be held responsible for the assumptions people may make in regards to factors like race and income. I’ve seen comments on blogs and in twitter that are trying to say this is encouraging racism or social stratification and that was never our intention. The ideas was to make it social, as if you were asking a friend, “Hey, I’m going to be visiting {your city} and thinking of staying at {some hotel}, is that a good area?”.

The name was not a publicity stunt, I honestly thought it would be a fun site for people to use. Since I have been proven wrong, I have changed the branding and, hopefully, people will still use the site because the good intentions are still there.

As of this writing, Good Part of Town looks like a generic forum page with folders for various areas (most of which are empty). The About page is nowhere in sight:

goodpartoftown-new
Smart Home

Ready for his close-up: Another man was caught licking a Ring video doorbell

A man in Lake Worth, Florida was caught on film licking a family's video doorbell. This makes the second incident like this in just over a month, after another doorbell licker was caught in California.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in February, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Social Media

Periscope tool adds guests to feeds so streamers can become talk show hosts

Periscope users can now invite viewers to chime into the conversation with more than just the comment tool. By enabling the option to add guests, livestreamers can add guests to the conversation, in audio format only.
Photography

Crouching, climbing, and creeping, the perfect Instagram shot knows no bounds

Just how far will you go for the perfect Instagram? A recent survey shows just how willing Instagram users -- and Instagram husbands -- are to climb, lie down, embarrass themselves or let their food go cold for the perfect shot.
Social Media

Facebook’s long-promised ‘unsend’ feature arrives. Here’s how to use it

Send a message to the wrong person? Messenger now gives you 10 minutes to take it back. After an update beginning to roll out today, users can now retract messages if they act within the first 10 minutes after sending the message.
Social Media

YouTube boss admits even her own kids gave the ‘Rewind’ video a thumbs down

YouTube's 2018 Rewind video went down like a lead balloon at the end of last year, becoming the most disliked video in its history. And now YouTube's CEO has admitted that even her own kids thought it was pretty darn awful.
Social Media

Snapchat finally recovers from its redesign — so here comes an Android update

Snapchat's drop in users after launching a controversial redesign has finally stagnated. During the fourth quarter and 2018 earnings report, Snapchat shared that the company is rolling out an Android update designed to increase performance.
Social Media

Skype’s new ‘blur background’ feature could help keep you from blushing

Skype's latest feature for desktop lets you blur your background during video calls. The idea is that it keeps you as the focus instead of distracting others with whatever embarrassing things you might have on show behind you.
Social Media

Twitter users are declining but more people are seeing ads every day

Twitter's end-of-the-year report for 2018 is a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that more users are seeing adds daily, the metric the company will focus on moving forward. But the bad news is that monthly active users are…
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings. 
Social Media

LinkedIn finally gets around to launching its own live video tool

Live video is coming to LinkedIn for businesses and individuals on the site. The livestreaming feature is launching in beta in the U.S. before rolling out to the entire community.