The creator of new website GhettoTracker.com insists that he did not intend to offend anyone when he chose the name of the site and mobile app. According to him, the site was designed to assist students, travelers, and new residents in identifying unsafe areas. But instead of using crime statistics, law enforcement releases, and news reports, Ghetto Tracker relies on the user ratings of local citizens (presumably those who look like the family on their “About” page). This allows every Tom, Dick, and George Zimmerman to make claims that predominantly ethnic, low-income areas are “unsafe,” without any concrete evidence.
The Ghetto Tracker creator, who has been identified as Tallahassee Web Design President Casey Smith (although he denies responsibility), says he thought that the name of the site would be satirical and easy to recall, not racist.
“This was originally seriously developed as a travel tool and 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,” he told Nitasha Tiku of Gawker.
He also suggested that he is not to blame if Ghetto Tracker users make racial associations with unsafe areas.
“I am not concerned about racial implications between good areas and bad areas. If a certain part of town has a lot of crime and is considered a bad area, I can’t be held responsible for the assumptions people may make in regards to factors like race and income.”
The site creator shared that amid the flack he received after the site launched, two emails caused him to change his mind about the comedic and functional value of the name. One came from a woman whose family was forced into an actual WWII ghetto. The other came from a man whose childhood neighborhood would have been marked “unsafe” on the site, but who earned a degree from Rutgers University and was able to rise above his circumstances.
Ghetto Tracker was re-branded to be called GoodPartOfTown.com, and Black and Latino family stock photos were added to its home page.
On Wednesday, the site was taken down. A message at the web address now reads, “The site is gone. It’s not worth the trouble.”