Commentary: One Thing the Internet Doesn't Need? Ghetto Tracker

Commentary: One Thing the Internet Doesn't Need? Ghetto Tracker

The website invites prejudice and serves as an example of what the Internet does not need.

Published September 4, 2013

Technology has enhanced the quality of life and the ability for a society to get important and useful information quickly.

But every now and then there are technological advances that are patently dubious, developments that are less than extraordinary, where a society might do perfectly well without them. seems to be just one of these technological developments. The website invites the public to rate various neighborhoods, inviting people to offer reviews on "which parts of town are safe and which ones are ghetto, or unsafe."

The fascinating aspect of this site is that people are not asked to provide information based on any police statistics, school safety records or economic income data. It simply asked participants to register their opinions about what communities seem safe and inviting.

What such requests invite, however, are opinions that are based in little more than personal opinion and, frankly, wholesale prejudices. After all, how a neighborhood appears to a visitor is a function of a wide array of personal history, open-mindedness and experience.

When it first was unleashed on the Internet, GhettoTracker told one publication that the site was intended as a useful yet humorous site that would serve as a refreshing travel guide.

The very name “Ghetto Tracker” invites disdain and controversy. Initially, it said the name was “meant to be something that people would remember." Well, it worked, but unfortunately, it appears to have brought a lot of negative baggage along with it.

Indeed. Since its launch, the site has developed a good deal of controversy and it seems that its creators have taken it down, re-launched it and placed it in some sort of cyberspace limbo.

Nonetheless, no matter its current status, the good news is that there is a significant degree of vigilance in the world of the Internet. Moreover, a site that has the potential to stoke racist notions serves no useful purpose to its users, particularly when showcased as a beneficial tool to Americans.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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