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Why shouldn’t there be a Yelp-like app for Trump-supporting diners?

By March 19, 2019No Comments

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

Can’t a Trump supporter find a quiet place to eat dinner nowadays? Geez! Across the country, people who openly display their support of the president – usually via some type of Make America Great Again clothing – are getting harassed in public restaurants and other places of business. Thank goodness a clever entrepreneur has come up with a solution: it’s called 63red Safe.

63red Safe is a mobile app that differs from other review services in one major way: it provides information to its users about whether a business is safe from politics, especially for those that lean right.

“I’m trying to position it as an everyday ‘where can I go eat safely’ app,” Scott Wallace, the app’s founder, told the Daily Beast.

The app – which according to the company’s website is temporarily unavailable in the Google and Apple stores (possibly due to reported security issues) but can be downloaded elsewhere online if you choose to take the risk – is just a very simplified version of Yelp.

Users are asked four simple questions that have nothing to do with the food or ambience but instead are about whether the restaurant owners make “social media posts”, allow customers to carry weapons, are open to all political beliefs and would protect their customers “if they are attacked for political reasons”. You know, the important stuff you want to know about a place before you dine there.

The idea isn’t entirely new. Back before the civil rights era many black people relied on the Green Book, a useful publication that listed safe establishments for African American travelers – who themselves also faced many threats when dining out. And, yes, I agree the similarity is ironic.

But all jokes aside, the app to me is a good idea and instead of scoffing or demeaning its creator (as many online are doing) we should be applauding Wallace. Why?

Because 63red Safe is one of a few apps (there’s also a chat and soon-to-be released event management tool) nested under the umbrella of a conservative news site – 63red – that caters to a Trump-supporting customer base. So why not develop a product that is not only appealing to that demographic, but helps this business to build their brand within that community?

This is not illegal nor is it in any way infringing on the rights of non-Trump supporters. It’s just providing a service to a specific group of customers not unlike the growing crop of social media and dating apps that also cater to a conservative crowd. Clearly there’s an audience for this stuff and when there’s a potential market, smart entrepreneurs – whether they support our president or oppose him – should be applauded for taking advantage of it.

The app is free, but – assuming its issues gets resolved and it’s made widely available – the attention it’s already receiving could generate a lot of business, particularly as the country heads into what is expected to be a very tumultuous 2020 election year. I may or may not be a fan of politicians like Trump or his opponents. But I’m definitely a fan of entrepreneurs like Wallace. We should all be.

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