Technology

"Ugly Meter" iPhone App: Cruel or Plain Old Fun?

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Some are calling for Apple to ban a new iPhone app that judges how attractive people are. They fear it could be used in cyberbullying among children, or could make kids with low self-esteem feel even worse.

Called the "Ugly Meter," the 99-cent app uses facial recognition software that measures symmetry and other features. Then the person gets a score from 1 to 10, with one being attractive -- 10, well not so much.

If you get a 10, the message "You're so ugly, when you walk by the bathroom, the toilet flushes," pops up. 9.4 gets: "You look like you ran a 100-yard dash in a 90-yard gym."

The people who created the app say it is all supposed to be fun. But Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Washington-based Family Online Safety Institute told Fox News, "If you're 25, 26 or 28, this sort of thing could be quite funny or amusing. But in the hands of a 14 or 15-year-old, it could be quite the reverse, and particularly if someone is submitting someone else's photograph and then circulated that photo around school.

"For impressionable young teens and tweens, it could potentially be quite damaging," he said. "It could be used in cyberbullying."

Dr. Gwenn O'Keeffe, author of "Cybersafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming and Social Media," said "There's a fine line between teasing and razzing one another. And this 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. There are other ways to have fun in life."

O'Keeffe said Apple should ban or restrict the app. "I would like to see Apple not have it at all," she said. "But if they do, it should be for certain age groups."

The people who created the app said they did consider the downside of it. "We did talk about that, and the kids who are doing things like that are going to be doing it one way or another," Eugene Overline, the lead programmer of Dapper Gentlemen said. "They're going to find a way to bully or do whatever they do some way. But it did come up."

Overline added "There's nothing in our app that's profane. All of our insults are PG-rated. We kept it pretty clean on purpose."

And just to prove he understands the pain of those who score "ugly," Overline revealed his own high reading. "Uh, yeah, unfortunately I pushed an 8.7," he said. "I can't really argue with the results of my own app."