Is Anyone Building “Foursquare But For Racism”?

I’m reading Nick Harkaway’s Gnomon right now, and one of the characters has just decided to create a new app that lets people tag their experiences on the street:

“So, like Foursquare,” my interviewer said, with the doubt of a young person looking at an old man in front of a computer.

“Exactly like that,” I said, “except that our users will record incidences of hate. We’ll be working initially to produce a live map—like a traffic congestion map—of more and less racist areas, safe routes home, institutionally racist police forces and local authorities, local populations. We’ll have a star rating system and so on.”

I immediately wondered if anyone is actually doing this. So far, all I’ve found is a recently launched app from South Africa called ZiRRA, which allows you to report incidents of racism but nothing more.

I’m surprised. The book was published three months ago, which seems like plenty of time for some hotshot Silicon Valley team to womp together a Foursquare clone in their off hours. What’s the holdup? Or does it already exist and I just don’t know how to find it?


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.