SketchFactor app for avoiding ‘sketchy’ neighborhoods called ‘racist’ by some

“A navigation app meant to help users avoid ‘sketchy’ neighborhoods has produced strong reactions, including accusations of racism,” Ben Pimentel reports for MarketWatch. “”

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,” Pimentel reports. “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,” Pimentel reports. “But for many on Twitter, ‘sketchy’ suggests black or non-white.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. The reporter quickly made up his mind about this app (being racist) and went with that.

    If you read more carefully (and do a bit more of research), the authors actually ask people to report profiling, police misconduct, etc. The “Million Hoodies” organisation (formed in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin murder) has endorsed this app and is very supportive.

    Issues of race are very touchy in America. This app simply illustrates that. You cannot call the authors racist; they developed the app and are simply asking ordinary people to report “sketchy” events. If the app ends up being “racist” (i.e. the “sketchy” neighbourhoods end up being the ones with minorities or population of colour), it will be the reflection of the app’s users, and not the authors.

    1. Anything supported by Trayvon Martin inspired organization can bite my chimichangas. That dude was a thug, and viciously assaulted a man and got what he deserved. Those that wanted to turn self defense into some sort of racial crime are equally as scummy.

  2. It’s not a bad idea. For example one might want to formulate areas to avoid based on:

    – Do they abduct people and kill them?
    – Do they invade other countries on a whim?
    – Do they torture people?
    – Do they engage in slavery?
    – Are they terrorists, or wannabe terrorists?
    – Do they have a thirst for war?
    – Are they self-righteous extremists?

    You certainly want to avoid neighbor hoods like that.

    1. Do they enact laws to disenfranchise particular sectors of their population?
      Do they want to impose their particular religious doctrine in a partially or totally theocratic state?
      Do their laws reflect non-equivalent punishment meted out to different groups (for the same crime)?
      Do they talk a lot about freedom, but want to control what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes?

  3. I feel bad for the creators of this app and the folk that are upset about it. Obviously they haven’t used it, it just has people posting jokes and funny things. There isn’t a serious post within miles of my neighborhood or my whole city

  4. I setup and see nothing. As in nothing at all. I know some places that are good tests for this and I’m not sure if it’s even working. I’ll let it sit a few days and then see if I get any data. There are indeed sketchy streets/locations, and I would be happy to know about them when possible.

    1. Still no data. So it’s hard to say. But I did hear a report on the radio here in LA where the reporters were testing this and while they were in a “sketchy area” their cargo broken into and all their sh** stolen. LMAO – seems like it works fine!

  5. The thing with this app is that it’s crowd sourced data, apparently with no editor/monitor/filtering.

    So, it’s entirely possible for a racist person or group, to start labeling areas as “sketchy” for a bunch of racist reasons.

    That doesn’t make the app itself racist any more than say Yahoo is racist because of racist article comments.

    However, it does point out a significant flaw in the usability of the app and the value of the information you can get from it. For example, in my area I see the following sketch reports:

    Attacked by a cougar
    That’s funny if you know they’re talking about the Rosewood, but not so funny if you don’t know the reputation of that place and do know that there are actual cougars (as in mountain lions) in the area.

    Others in the general area include “so many white people”, “woman in wheelchair shot a laser into my crotch. It’s ok”

    The bottom line is that it’s a great idea for an app, but it’s not going to be of much use until they filter out a lot of the crap. They’d also probably benefit from adding actual police data.

  6. Some people especially Americans hate having reality pushed in there faces. Poor neighberhoods equal lover education, funding and opertunities equals hight crime. Stop bitching about an app that speaks truth and try getting back your democracy (a myth that has never existed) and the + trillion dollars that goes missing, that your own goverment does not know where it goes too. Haha

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