Exclusive: Creator of “Ghetto Tracker” App Talks With Ben Swann and Says Media Creating “Race War.”

By: Ben Swann
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Ghetto Tracker Interview Ben Swann

It has been a busy week for David Foster.  Foster and his company, just one week ago, began beta testing a website and soon to be released app called “Ghetto Tracker”.  The name alone created a firestorm of criticism from national media outlets as well as local broadcast TV stations.  Everyone from CNN and MSNBC to the Huffington Post, to dozens of local broadcast TV affiliates have come out strongly against the website and app that aims to keep visitors to any city away from the “bad parts of town”.

The headline on the Huffington Post: “‘Ghetto Tracker,’ App That Helps Rich Avoid Poor, Is As Bad As It Sounds”

CNN’s piece about the app states,

“The word choice was far from the only problem critics had with Ghetto Tracker, which featured a stock photo of a smiling white family on its homepage. Many called it out, accused it of being racist and classist. Ghetto Tracker’s ratings of neighborhoods weren’t based on any hard crime data, just the impressions and biases of regular people.”

Foster’s reaction, he pulled the site down and renamed it “The Good Part of Town”.  David Holmes with Pando Daily went after the app writing,

“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. 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,”

By Saturday Foster had reversed course and reinstated the original name ‘Ghetto Tracker’ because of what the owner of the site says has been an incredible outpouring of support.

“When we looked at the percentage of positive feedback versus the little bit of negative.  We are not trying to be insensitive but in reality if it offends you then just don’t go there.  That is not our intention.  Our intention is to help people,”
says Foster who talked exclusively with Ben Swann via Skype.

Foster has received dozens of requests for interviews from the national networks and local affiliates nationwide but came to BenSwann.com to share his side of the story.

“I refused to do a single interview until I had talked to you first because I know what is going to happen.  They are going to get me on there, they are going to spin it, they are probably going to cut it up and make it something that it isn’t and I don’t want to deal with that.”

So where does the name “Ghetto Tracker” come from?  Foster says that he created the app in response to his wife having to travel often for her job and not knowing what parts of town she would feel safest in.

“If we would call this app anything, we looked at slum tracker we looked at all these different names.  No matter what we would have called it, as soon as those areas were highlighted and people thought that we were focusing in on the ghetto, we would have been in this situation anyway, regardless of the name,”
says Foster.

To be clear, “Ghetto Tracker” does not attempt to correlate crime data in order to determine less “safe” parts of a community.  Instead, the information in the app is completely uploaded by users.  Foster says what he is doing is similar to the ratings system for sites like Hotels.com.

“It is completely created by users, all the feedback.  Like if somebody goes into an area, like rating a hotel, if they are in an area and they feel like its not a decent area, they can mark it in there, make a comment and say this is what I experienced in this area.” claims Foster.

Swann:  “You do not feel that the name, and obviously not because you have gone back to “Ghetto Tracker”. You do not feel that the name is insensitive in any way?


Foster:  “I don’t and I think that we are past that as people, I would like to think we are. That we would not call something for what it really is. What is another word you could use?  Slums? Skidrow? Bad part of town? I don’t know what a word that would appease people would be.”

Swann:  “When people criticize this they say, ‘Well, this promotes racism, this promotes kind of a classist system where you are keeping wealthy people away from poor people by saying ghetto tracker.  Here’s how you avoid “the ghetto”, here’s how you avoid poor people’.  What do you say to the claim that you are keeping people apart?”

Foster:    “I am in Tallahassee, Florida and if I was going to be traveling up north, I have no idea where to go up there.  I could get on Hotels.com and book a hotel and end up in a questionable area and like I said, its all based on user feedback so its just people helping people.”  “You really don’t have any other way to get that information and to know what kind of an area you are going into.  It is a real issue.”

Swann: “What about the claim that some people would make that by using the term “ghetto” you are essentially labeling people who live in those areas as being less than those who do not?”

Foster: “Personally I feel that if they have that issue with that word, that is their issue.  See, I don’t feel like there’s an issue with that word.  The actual definition of the word, and I looked it up is ‘an impoverished, neglected or otherwise disadvantaged residential area of a city usually troubled by a disproportionately large amount of crime.’  So I don’t see that as labeling people, I see that as labeling an area.”

Most interestingly, Foster claims that for every one or two negative emails he has received over the past week, he has received 30 positive ones.  Part of why he claims the “righteous indignation” surrounding this app isn’t coming from the public but is completely created by media.

“I think it is all being propagated by the media and this is why I contacted you.  I think the biggest injustice being done to the American people today is the media.”   “Right now we are facing a potential war in Syria.  There are some real issues in this country, things we need to be dealing with, things we need to be having a real conversation about.” says Foster who goes on to insist that in a free market, no one is forced to use his site or app,

“In my opinion if I were to see a web site, like this and I didn’t want to use it, I just wouldn’t use it. I wouldn’t be complaining about it. I wouldn’t see it as class warfare.  I wouldn’t be looking at it like they have ulterior motives.  I would just say ‘That isn’t a site I want to use, next.’ But they are putting so much focus.”

After our interview, I was contacted by David Foster who explains that his desire is to promote growth and opportunity in impoverished neighborhoods and sent me this statement claiming he will donate 20% of all proceeds to improving inner city neighborhoods.

“We have decided that if and when GhettoTracker makes money…we are going to donate 20% of all profits to non-profit organizations that help neighborhoods improve. We feel that this could really raise awareness to a problem that people would otherwise ignore. The first step to fixing a problem is to acknowledge there IS a problem. We also want to educate the US population about the ridiculous overspending on wars overseas. If we took the amount spent for a single day of war, and donated it to non-profit organizations that help the hungry and homeless here in our own country, we could almost eliminate it. Please connect with us on our social media channels to get updates:”

Facebook.com/GhettoTracker

Twitter.com/GhettoTracker


  • Chris Rogers

    “An informed public will fight!” I appreciate that comment a lot. Just the other day, I wrote, “I believe in the average human to do the right thing when given enough information to make a decision. I do not believe in the average human’s ability to decipher truth from bullshit.”

    • http://GhettoTracker.com/ Ghetto Tracker

      Thanks Chris! I agree!

      • Chris Rogers

        You are quite welcome :)

    • defyentropy

      Well said, Chris & I appreciate that no qualifiers were associated with “make a decision”. Alignment of b$llsh$t meter against field of info is still a worthy endeavor!

      • Chris Rogers

        Thank you.

  • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

    Ben, thanks SO much for doing this interview. I appreciate you and what you are doing!

  • Chris James

    Great interview Ben! Mr. Foster was spot on about the condition of our U.S media. Glad to see he knew of you and came to you first! Mr. Foster, I have no need of your app, but I know a few people that might. I will definitely let them know about it. Take care fellas!

    • http://GhettoTracker.com/ Ghetto Tracker

      Thanks Chris!

  • Jesse Caron

    “Hood Tracker”, maybe?

    • http://GhettoTracker.com/ Ghetto Tracker

      Ya, I don’t think that would help. We are keeping it GhettoTracker. But thanks for the suggestion.

  • defyentropy

    If a minor symantec issue which has nothing to do with the quality of the service is the best critics can come up with then this is much ado about nothing. Every website today begs for feedback, ratings & comments from it’s visitors/users.
    This app makes that info cohesively & readily available to the USERS and not just some disembodied marketing firm.

    • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

      Exactly. That is why we decided not to use any statistical data, as we feel it can be skewed by so many sources. Sure, when you let people post whatever they want you will get some of that too, but readers can generally decipher fact from fiction. You will always have people abuse every system online…so as we are going to be working to add safeguards, we will always have haters and people abusing it, but we can accept that to work to keep people safe.

      • defyentropy

        This ridiculous hangup over labels has been foisted on us as yet another distraction from paying attention to actions. Have we lost the wisdom of “actions speak louder than words” in this age when almost everyone in a seat of power/manipulation lies to us?

        When so much new tech ability that could benefit humanity is co-opted by the gov/military/power brokers, we should embrace & support any new tech that puts power into the hands of the rest of us.

        I would be more likely to believe reviews by other customers/users than a paid critic/reviewer…Isn’t this app an example of the freedoms we should cherish on the internet?

        • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

          I agree. This is no different than a service like Yelp, or Urbanspoon etc where you rate hotels, restaurants, services etc. It is a collaborative effort to allow people to help people. You will always have people who abuse it, but I don’t care what you build you will have that…nothing you can do about it…but for me it is much more accurate than statistical crime data that can and is manipulated to show false positives in some areas, and false negatives in others…

  • Observer915

    When selling Real Estate, a licensed Realtor cannot say “This is a ghetto or dont buy here, this area has ___________ and _________.
    So, many home buyers have to figure it out all by themselves. Sometimes the Realtor “hints” at it or maybe whispers it, but they can lose their license for what this web site and app. exposes.
    People that are NEW in town need to be warned because it might look fine during the daytime, but at NIGHT it becomes something else.

    • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

      Agreed, and all we are doing is actually pointing out the 2 ton elephant in the room, but so many people would rather keep ignoring it. Because they do not want people to think they are ignoring it…but once it is right in their face and exposed, people will know…they DO ignore it.

  • Doodab

    This site is great. I travel everywhere with work and do cell sites. I have to go to every area. This is a great help.
    Thank You Ghetto Tracker

    • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

      Thank YOU Doodab! Appreciate the support!

  • FunWithJim

    Sorry, but I can’t give Foster a pass. The word “ghetto” is inseparably associated with race and ethnicity.

    • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

      Ya, we don’t have the budget to buy a expensive domain, and we are not changing it. We are sympathetic for sure to anyone who still holds to the arcane definitions, but I think as people we need to stop trying to be so politically correct and grow up. My grandmother taught me as a young boy, and it pretty much stuck that sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will never hurt us, and well I have lived my whole life and never been affected by names, and I am both Costa Rican and an Atheist, so I could complain about oppression but I don’t, because I choose to not let that define me…if people do that, then THEY have the issue and need to get past it so we can grow as a society…

      And definitions for words change over time. I think gay used to mean happy. So I think we can all agree as adults that we know what ghetto means, and that to use it does not scream racism it screams division, and so let’s work together to bridge that gap…or just continue to ignore it and watch honey boo boo.

      • Not Bob

        Well said, keep up the good work !

      • Aaron Travis

        dude, when has your being a Costa Rican & Atheist ever caused you to be oppressed, David Foster? I understand the argument for your app, but you strike me as more of a d-bag than anything else. Ben Swann giving you credence feels a bit like TIME magazine hailing Johnny Manziel as the face of the debate for paying college athletes.

    • Not Bob

      Who cares, if you are upset that a word in the dictionary is being used to sell a product then you should attack half of the businesses out there!

      Absolutely they have every right in the word to chastise people for paying attention to social topics when there are many worse things going on, its standard procedure in America today to ignore the important issues and focus on race or gender issues, topics that frankly do not affect everyone where war in Syria will impact many more people, is the death of innocent people in Syria less important that your injured sensibilities ‘?

    • Robo

      Ironically the same areas tend to have high crime rates, including violent crime. Again a valuable app for those who wish to avoid crime to person or property.

  • Stephanie Snyder Staker

    Ben, I totally support this young man and his group of creators. I understand what they are doing and it has nothing to do with hate, racism, class warfare, etc. My daughter works in outside sales for a major corporation also. Her “area” is not one where she has to travel into states or cities she is not familiar with but still she drives into towns and cities relatively local but still unknown to her. I would be thrilled if she had access to the website. Our neighborhoods are changing rapidly due to unemployment, crime, abject poverty, etc. Truly, the town we used to live in (about 5 miles away) has become a “ghetto”. My kids graduated from high school there in the late 80′s, our county fair is held there, it was primarily a blue-collar town where we had a lot of industry (large manufacturing). I don’t know what happened exactly but it is now not safe to go there after dark and in some areas, in broad daylight. This happened in a matter of a 10 years or less! So information about this town could be very outdated and dangerously so. The murder rate alone is stunning. Situations such as these make this website a great service to all travelers, I think. It is sort of like “Yelp”, right? Sort of. Ben and David are right – if you don’t like the site, don’t go there! If it offends you, that is on you. I firmly believe that we choose our emotional responses; no one “makes” us feel a certain way. We choose to feel it due to our own issues and past. Enough of this pussy-footing around about what we say!

    • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

      This is an EXCELLENT comment, and I could not agree with you more. It really is sad that we have to walk on eggshells whenever talking to someone in fear of “offending” them, but I am often very blunt and to the point, and if people don’t appreciate that, even friends, then don’t come around me. I am not going to mold myself to fit everyone’s issue. :)

  • Dan M

    Racism and classism are real issues. This is clearly racist and pulling out a dictionary definition of a word is one of the most cliche and ineffective ways of dealing with a complex issue such as this. Anybody educated in this topic knows that the word ‘ghetto’ is used as a derogatory term to refer to minority groups and disadvantaged people where crime rates are always higher. There is so much I could say to this but the truth is this person only cares about how much publicity he is getting and how many people are attracted to his idea and he certainly is not concerned about the other matters being discussed in any context other than how it might impact upon his sales.

    • MAJ

      I used to work in the home health field and I know there are many, many good people in those areas, too, but THEY were the ones who would tell me NOT to come there at night and if I came to their house during the day, they would have a male relative come out to my car to escort me to their door and they were all different races and those of us who cared for them were all different races, too. So you are saying that safety is racist? David Foster started this because he wants to make sure his wife stays in safe areas while she travels. Would you want your wife/mother/sister/daughter to stay in an unsafe “ghetto” area just to prove you aren’t “racist?” Seriously?? This has nothing to do with race. It is about being in safe areas. How many stories do we hear of people who are kidnapped and/or murdered because they took a wrong turn and ended up in a bad area? This politically correct nonsense has got to stop!!

      • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

        Thanks MAJ, and that is correct! I really just want to bring attention to a real issue. Thanks for the support!

    • Spitfire1031

      racist huh?…Be a stand up citizen and drive through Gary, Indiana at 2am. Then tell me this app wouldn’t have been helpful. By the way, Gary,Indiana is White,Black,Hispanic. It is Gang land that stretches from Merrillville,Indiana all the way into Chicago. I’d be pretty damn happy if I could avoid that place or at least be told where the safer areas would be to drive.I must be a racist because I would clearly define that area as a ghetto.

    • Not Bob

      Racism is relative, its only racism if it is perceived that way and that perception is a personal choice not a socially measurable fact!

    • http://hubze.com/ David Foster

      I am not at all worried about sales. We offer the service first, and then will see what happens in the future regarding sales and actually being able to pay people to keep it updated, because as I am sure you know, there are costs to do business…and there is nothing wrong with making money on a service people NEED. You find a need, and offer a solution…that is what all business is made of.

    • Robo

      It’s racist to draw attention to high crime areas traditionally referred to as ghettos? I don’t think so.

  • Tommy

    wow great website!

  • Not Bob

    The politicians and government soo wants to draw attention to race, its an easy way to distract the people from the real issues and get them inflamed by fake racism.

    • Robo

      You wouldn’t think so based on the extreme under reporting of black on white violence by the mainstream (lamestream) media.

  • Melissa

    If the word ghetto automatically makes some think of skin color then maybe the question should be asked, “humm, why is that?” If you act like a slut, you are going to be labeled a slut, if you act like a thug, you are going to be labeled a thug.

  • fsdgf

    if there were white ghettos they would be in there too. oh wait there aren’t any

    • KingCutlass79

      Of course there are, they’re called “trailer parks.”

    • theoddfather

      LOL – white people make up the vast majority of poor people in the US.

      • Robo

        Still never hear about gangs of cowardly white youths running around playing the knockout game on senior citizens blacks.

  • Keldroc

    Oh yeah, nothing racist about GhettoTracker’s (now deleted, wonder why) Facebook shares before all this blew up. No sirree.

    http://publicshaming.tumblr.com/post/60297109751/ghettotracker-com-now-goodpartoftown-com-the-racist

    Sorry, Foster, you’re not fooling anyone.

  • Lucas Gutierrez

    I got a lot of respect for this guy. He’s smart! Go to Ben S. first and screw the main stream media! WORD!

    • ledbetta

      True that. And I agree with Foster that this whole phony outrage is just another MSM distraction from any real national conversation. They so want to keep us focused on race when they should be non stop on issues like Syria, the Unaffordable Health Care Act, or QE Unlimited.

  • Saydi

    I drove a truck for many years and there are a lot of scary places I wouldn’t want to end up in accidentally. Dark deserted industrial areas where even though your in the city it can feel like you miles from civilization and any prospect of help should something arise. I wouldn’t want to accidentally drive into one of those areas and have my car break down, or get lost, these areas have nothing to do with “race”, they are abandoned after closing hours and sometimes frequented by unsavory and suspicious characters because of their desolation, wouldn’t want my loved one accidentally ending up in a bad situation.

  • Robert

    Meanwhile back at The Fun House of Mirrors (FedGov) millions of people are loosing their health insurance, millions are paying 35 times MORE in premiums and even millions more are having their deductibles quadruple.

    May they ALL rot in hell and die SLOW and PAINFUL deaths.

    Save humanity; De-fund FedGov!

  • Robo

    Racist? Hardly. Who doesn’t want to avoid high crime areas? Areas where the media under reports criminal activity like “the knock out game” and other primarily black on white violence should be made known to those who don’t want to become victims. Not surprisingly the same areas have the strongest gun control laws.