Ghetto Tracker
The “About” section on Ghetto Tracker had featured an all-white, smiling family. Gawker/Screenshot

A new website has drawn heavy criticism for its insensitive name and the service it provides. According to Gawker, Ghetto Tracker invites users to rate neighborhoods, based on “which parts of town are safe and which ones are ghetto, or unsafe.”

As CNN pointed out, the ratings are based on user opinions, rather than actual crime data. The “About” page of the site at the time of this writing features a smiling, white couple, which many say is racist.

Since the site’s launch this week, the founder has faced a barrage of criticism. “It’s pretty detrimental to society when we reinforce the idea that poor or crime-heavy areas are places to be categorically avoided or shamed,” David Holmes of Pando Daily wrote. “As if to assume that every person who lives in an area with comparatively high crime or poverty is a criminal, or that these areas are devoid of culture or positivity.”

According to CNN, many news outlets originally identified the creator of the site as Casey Smith, who is the president of a company called Tallahassee Web Design, a link to which could be seen in the original version of Ghetto Tracker. However, Smith told CNN in writing he wasn’t behind the site.

“No, I am not the founder of that site,” Smith wrote. “It seems someone on Twitter saw our standard credits (website by ... ) at the bottom of the website and for some reason assumed it was my site. I own and operate Tallahassee Web Design and our link is in the footer of a lot of sites that we don’t own.” Smith added, “I have cut ties with the owner of the site, but he does have the source code and from what I understand he is still pursuing the project elsewhere.”

Since the criticism began a few days ago, the site’s creator addressed the criticism in a post called “Debunking the Media Myths” on the related “This website was always meant to be a tool to help people stay safe,” the post reads. “Although the original name (Ghetto Tracker) may have been, admittedly, insensitive to some people, the purpose of the site remains the same. If I’m traveling to an unfamiliar area, I would like to get the opinions of the locals as to how safe an area is.”

The post continues: “This website is not about race or income, as some of the PC myrmidons have asserted. Again, it’s about safety. If you don’t care about your personal safety, I suggest you not use this site.”

“I’ve seen comments on blogs and in Twitter that are trying to say this is encouraging racism or social stratification and that was never our intention,” the anonymous site creator told Gawker. “The ideas was to make it social, as if you were asking a friend, “Hey, I’m going to be visiting {your city} and thinking of staying at {some hotel}, is that a good area?”

The site creator added: “I also realize the site wouldn’t have gotten as much attention as it did and you wouldn’t be writing me if I hadn’t named it ‘Ghetto Tracker. The name was not a publicity stunt, I honestly thought it would be a fun site for people to use. Since I have been proven wrong, I have changed the branding and, hopefully, people will still use the site because the good intentions are still there.”