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:

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription