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:


…GhettoTracker’s Twitter page looks like this:


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:

Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

The best Christmas TV episodes and specials

To help get you in the spirit of the season, we've compiled a list of the best Christmas TV episodes and specials. Whether it's free episodes on your favorite streaming service, or stop-motion classics, look no further.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

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.
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.