A navigation app meant to help users avoid “sketchy” neighborhoods has produced strong reactions, including accusations of racism. SketchFactor, which was created by New York entrepreneurs Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, is a crowd-sourced navigation app that “shows that relative sketchiness of an area,” the company said. The app, which was unveiled Thursday, is available in the Apple App Store.
‘Sketchiness,’ of course, is very subjective as the company itself notes on its site: “What does sketchy mean? Sketchy means a number of things. To you, it may mean dangerous. To someone else, it may mean weird. You can report weird—such as a bizarre discovery or strange encounter—or dangerous—potentially harmful situations—to the app,” the SketchFactor team also said. “You can also share protips about what routes you take and why. Whether you experience a low lit path, racial profiling, or even a pants-less dancer, SketchFactor’s got your back.”
But for many on Twitter, ‘sketchy’ suggests black or non-white. The SketchFactor team stressed that the app is “not exclusive to privileged communities or tourists. Many of our users experience racial profiling, police misconduct and harassment,” the SketchFactor team said. “We encourage all users to report this information.”
SketchFactor even noted its partnership with a group called Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, formed in reaction to the case Trayvon Martin, the African American teenager who was shot dead by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who thought he looked suspicious.
In fact Million Hoodies Movement was among those who quickly voiced support for SketchFactor.