As if there weren’t enough nastiness and mean behavior online, a company called Dapper Gentlemen has found yet another way to promote bullying – this time with an app called the Ugly Meter.
The Ugly Meter app (available for $0.99 in iTunes) takes your photo, “scans” your face and then gives you a rating of 1-10 on the “Ugly Scale.” The higher the score you get (higher = uglier), the app provides comments such as: "Your face looks like it was in the dryer with a bunch of rocks," or "When you walk pass a bathroom, the toilet flushes." Lovely. And there’s more. If someone takes a photo of you with the app, then whatever ridiculous comments the app creates can also be broadcast over Facebook and Twitter.
While this may be something that college-aged kids would get a kick out of at a frat party (can’t you envision this as a hazing ritual?), what the app developers don’t realize is how readily available they’ve made another tool for bullying. Kids have found countless ways to bully via Facebook and texting, but now with this app there’s another means at their disposal.
Gwenn O’Keeffe, author of “Cybersafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming and Social Media, remarked in a statement, “[This app] is just hurtful. It could have crushing blows on kids with low self-esteem. There's just nothing good that could come from an app like this."
And while parents and media outlets are calling out the app for its maliciousness, one of the app’s creators, Jo Overline of Dapper Gentlemen is quoted as saying: "All of our insults are PG-rated. We kept it pretty clean. There will always be bullies out there and we can't control what they do. Parents need to take responsibility for their children and stop trying to blame the media."
Dapper Gentlemen doesn’t seem to be bothered at all by the negative attention it’s getting for its cyber-bullying tool. In fact, three million downloads later, the company is continuing to promote “ugly” and just announced a contest offering $1,000 to the app’s ugliest user. Pictures can be uploaded to Twitter and Facebook and judging will take place to find out who the ugliest person is.
Even though there’s no real science to the app (despite the developer claiming there are “measurements that are official definitions for how beauty is created”), the legitimacy lies in the reality behind the mean comments and what may be hilarious to a college kid will likely have a much more negatively profound effect on an 11-year-old.
Come on, do we really need more technology for bullies to be mean and hurtful?
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