The news: The Internet's been rough on SketchFactor, an app that lets people anonymously report whether a neighborhood is "sketchy" or not. Fortunately, it turns out there is a use for it — doing your damnedest to make Wall Street the most down-rated neighborhood in SketchFactor:
The background: The subversive logic here makes more than a little sense. SketchFactor is designed to guide people away from unfamiliar and perhaps dangerous areas, but the social damage from white-collar crime is immense. Besides helping to wreck the economy in 2008, Wall Street's illegal habits have included misleading investors and fraudulent foreclosures. The average middle class American actually has more to worry about from Wall Street than muggers and thieves — FBI statistics demonstrate violent crime has been falling for years, while white-collar crime targets nearly six million victims a year with a median property cost of $9,254.
According to some surveys, white-collar crime now affects more households than every other form of crime combined thanks to ubiquitous access to technology and loose regulations. But there's been no major government response to mortgage or financial industry fraud and as the New York Times noted, recent crackdowns on insider trading were more intended to protect bank profits than consumers or investors.
SketchFactor can't really shield you from any of that, but leaving hundreds of negative comments on Wall Street to offset the ones being directed at minorities and poor people is at least a form of humorous relief. Wall Street isn't the only privileged community being mocked, with San Franciscans targeting elite tech gentrifiers:
Still, jokes can only go so far. It would be great if an app alerted people to "sketchiness" a little higher up the food chain than SketchFactor, but that's probably not gonna happen. Until then, let's just keep in mind who really are the "sketchy" ones in your neighborhood.