More and more, it seems there apps for every conceivable need, but also ones for things we could do without. In Apple’s app store is an app called the “Ugly Meter“ that scans your face and then assigns you a score of 1 to 10, with low scores meaning that you’re “winning.” If the app says you’re ugly, you’re roasted with such choice phrases as “When you walk past a bathroom, the toilet flushes.” It’s sophomoric humor for 99 cents but there is an uglier aspect to this. The app, which is rated “appropriate” for those 9 years and older, also has a “bully mode” that produces even more unsavory results.
While some say it’s just an app (made by the ironically named “Dapper Gentlemen”) and one that you can choose not to buy or use, parents and anti-bullying advocates have raised concerns:
Despite its crackling green simulated scan, the results appear to be random. In tests, the same face received rankings between 0.5 and 7 — a chair got a 7. Even as a joke or novelty app, some experts say its effects could be harmful, especially to those unaware that the app’s ratings are random.
“There’s a fine line between teasing and razzing one another … [This app] is just hurtful. It could have crushing blows on kids with low self-esteem,” Gwenn O’Keeffe, author of “Cybersafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming and Social Media” (American Academy Of Pediatrics, 2010), said in a statement. “There’s just nothing good that could come from an app like this.”
The app has “hit #3 top paid and #3 top grossing” in Apple’s app store. Its creators say they made it just for fun but
“it ended up turning into a world wide crazy fest, thanks to a media system that likes to lie and overreact to get people’s attention.”
Certainly, if the “Ugly Meter” weren’t so popular, it would not have garnered the ire of parents, anti-bullying advocates and those in the lying/overreacting “media system.” The app’s popularity shows that, if you make software and games that send demeaning and hurtful messages, people will buy it. In other words, if you want to make a buck plus on your app, make one that’s demeaning and hurtful and if people buy it, it was their choice to do so, right?
But say you’re 9 years old and some other child has the “Ugly Meter” and uses it, and the 9-year-old gets told they could make a toilet flush by walking past it, and the 9-year-old laughs at herself because everyone else is? A middle school student could easily use the app to bully another student.
Sure, it’s just words on a software program but denigrating words can stick in one’s mind and fester.
Does Apple really need to be selling an app like the “Ugly Meter”?
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