A website satirizing the Bay Area's ongoing belief that technology can solve everything apparently hit a little too close to home this week. The app, which purportedly provides users a way to document and report the homeless, drew an instant and negative response on social media.
"Illegal tent cities can be breeding grounds for drug abuse, mental illness, harassment and property crime," the website reads. "By supplying information about these dangerous public eyesores, you can help law enforcement make the people who work and live in your city feel safe."
The designers behind Snapcamp perfectly satirized the tone-deaf savior complex emanating out of Silicon Valley.
"Snapcamp is an innovative app aiming to bring about social change one photo at a time," they explain. "By documenting and sharing information about homeless encampments, you can help clean up our community."
Perhaps, however, the parody was a bit too on point. At a time when there are real concerns of San Francisco's homeless population being swept under the rug in some sort of vague "beautification" attempt prior to Super Bowl 50, it really struck a nerve.
"WTF is wrong with people?," tweeted one observer who apparently took the website at face value. "This is absolutely disgusting."
Any time the rhetoric is about "cleaning up the community" it simply can't end well. https://t.co/YmlFgesw0w— Eldan Goldenberg (@eldang) February 3, 2016
The website, which launched Tuesday, is full of absurd "testimonials" from people who would, allegedly, like to use the app.
"Nobody wants to say it, but I will," reads one. "It's the smell. When I get off the bus from Mountain View, I have to hold my breath. I feel like we need to send a message."
The creators of Snapcamp exchanged emails with Mission Local, and although they refused to identify themselves by name, they attempted to explain their thinking behind the project.
"[It] shines a light on a central question in tech that I think often goes unexamined: We are obsessed with ‘solving problems.’ But whose problems do we solve? And what new problems are created?”
The creators of Snapcamp seemed unimpressed by the negative online reaction, and told Mission Local that people should be upset — but it shouldn't end there.
"Good," they wrote. "You care enough to Tweet. Now take the next step.”