In less than 24 hours, a new app tactfully titled Ghetto Tracker--a service seeking to help people identify safe areas in unfamiliar cities--has already garnered enough backlash to prompt an immediate name change to Good Part of Town.
However, the PR move may not do much to alter the public's reception of the app, which critics are slamming as a racist, classist app for helping the rich to avoid the poor.
The app functions by allowing locals to rate the safety of different parts of a given area. According to The Week, the original launch of the page featured a white family of four smiling alongside the app's promise to show users "which parts of town are safe and which ones are ghetto, or unsafe."
In addition to the name change, all mention of the word "ghetto" has been removed from the site. The site now features an ethnically diverse family on its homepage.
In an email sent to Gawker, the app's team said it changed the name in response to emails from a woman whose family had been contained in an actual World War II ghetto and one from a man who grew up in a struggling area and went on to graduate from college and overcome his upbringing.
"I can't be held responsible for the assumptions people may make in regards to factors like race and income," the letter to Gawker continued. "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."
But critics have pointed out the app's adverse effects on the community, regardless of the app's intentions.
"It’s pretty detrimental to society when we reinforce the idea that poor or crime-heavy areas are places to be categorically avoided or shamed," David Holmes wrote on PandoDaily. "As if to assume that every person who lives in an area with comparatively high crime or poverty is a criminal, or that these areas are devoid of culture or positivity."
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