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Controversial App Thinks All of Atlanta Is Pretty Sketchy

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A new app called Sketch Factor aims to identify "sketchy" areas to "take the guesswork out of city navigation" using crowd-sourced reports of "sketchiness." The potential for racism and/or classism has been pointed out by damn near every everyone, but Citylab puts it best, saying that it "smacks of genteel paranoia." Let's be honest: It's alright — advisable even — to know where high-crime areas of your city are and to avoid walking through those at night, waving around the latest iPhone and looking lost. But the app doesn't rely on crime data. In fact, it doesn't use crime data at all. The sketchy neighborhoods are determined solely by anonymous reports from fearful smart phone users across the city. The reports can document strange encounters, bizarre discoveries, crime, catcalls and, yes, racial profiling.

In response to the accusations of racism, app creator Allison McGuire said, "We understand that people will see this issue, and even though Dan [the app's other creator] end I are admittedly both young, white people, the app is not built for us as young, white people. As far as we're concerned, racial profiling is 'sketchy' and we are trying to empower users to report incidents of racism against them and define their own experience of the streets."

In the end, the app thinks all of Atlanta is pretty sketchy. You'll be hard pressed to find a neighborhood without some sort of report. Some entries are legit, if a little politically correct: "Woman runner attacked by a street dude in broad daylight." But publicly available crime stats are still going to do a better job of mapping those sorts of incidents.

Others, such as reports of "angry lesbians" in Decatur, "brosephs with tragic fashion choices" in Virginia-Highland, "predictably stupid Democrats" in Inman Park and "thugs roaming the area looking for trouble" downtown are, quite frankly, useless and judgmental bullshit, and the internet's cup already overfloweth with that kind of garbage.

That's not to say there aren't some intriguing stories to be found mapped in the app. But things like, "I was approached by a guy wearing a Hello Kitty costume holding a cage full of ferrets" just aren't worth weeding through all of the stupidity for.