An app that’s out to help people steer clear of “sketchy” areas is sparking dismay from critics including ValleyWag’s Sam Biddle, who dismisses the effort as “Smiling young white people make app for avoiding black neighborhoods.”

SketchFactor, which is a finalist in the startup competition NYC BigApps, crowdsources reports of uncomfortable encounters from its users and mixes them with crime data to rate the undefined “sketchiness” of areas in major cities.

Critics worry the app will unfairly tarnish neighborhoods with high concentrations of minorities. Apps designed to help people avoid high-crime areas have ignited controversy in the past.

Microsoft stirred criticism after being granted a patent for a software intended for GPS devices that would help people avoid high-crime areas, dubbed “ghetto avoider” by some. And an app that debuted in 2013 called “Ghetto Tracker” triggered a backlash that led to its demise. Source:

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