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A 16-year-old girl from India developed a Bitcoin app called Crypto Price Tracker, and users on Reddit viciously attacked her with abuse and death threats.
When the internet first arose, it was hailed as a technological marvel that would change the world. People would be able to virtually visit museums from all over the world and have access to knowledge that could only be found in the finest universities. However, the reality is that the internet is often a cesspool where the mob rules. Case in point is what happened to Harshita Arora, a 16-year-old girl from India who created a Bitcoin app. It was not long before users on Reddit accused her of plagiarizing the app and heaping a horrid amount of abuse upon her.
My app Crypto Price Tracker, a beautiful and simple crypto price tracker, alerts, and portfolio management app, is released on the App Store! Download it here https://t.co/okHR4WTYKo
Just launched on @ProductHunt! Would love to get some feedback! https://t.co/5ibFuQyb9Vpic.twitter.com/764XlyG1WJ
— Harshita Arora (@aroraharshita33) January 28, 2018
A Driven Young Lady
Harshita Arora comes from a small town outside of New Delhi in India. She looked to the tech industry as a way to make enough money to escape the confines of her life. She initially studied computer science in school and learned Adobe design software on her own in the evenings. Eventually, she dropped out of school to continue learning on her own.
Her work paid off. Salesforce in Bangalore offered her an internship a few months later, and she was then accepted into an MIT summer program. She made her way to Silicon Valley after the summer program ended, where she made quite a few contacts in the industry. However, she was unable to obtain a VISA and returned home to her parents.
Creating Crypto Price Tracker and the Reaction
Harshita Arora decided that her best path was to create her own products. To that end, she taught herself the Swift programming language and spent countless hours on Quora talking with other young techs and learning about coding and product development.
She eventually released her Bitcoin app called Crypto Price Tracker for the iPhone on January 20th, and the response was pretty standard. Some people gave her feedback, while others told her how much they enjoyed her app. Then the wheels came off.
Users on Reddit began to claim that she did not create the app herself. One female critic wrote a lengthy blog post making quite a few accusations, which were eventually proven false. Arora’s crime? She hired an outside developer to help with the backend code and that she had some help from mentors.
These facts were not hidden at all, and Arora originally tried to reason with the growing Reddit mob. Such development details were not a secret and are pretty commonplace. Arora says that her programming was not to snuff for some of the backend coding, so she hired someone who could do it.
However, the Reddit mob was in full fury. Their consensus belief was that a young woman was incapable of creating a useful and sleek Bitcoin app. It had to have been developed by an older programmer with a great deal of experience. Oh, and the programmer was likely a man.
The abuse then began to flood in. She received lots of messages calling her a liar and a fraud. Some critics threatened her with rape, and there were even death threats. That’s a whole lot of sick garbage to dump onto a 16-year-old girl.
A relatively mild criticism reads:
I doubt the girl herself came up with the idea and hired the contractor(s) herself. She’s a 16 year old girl, she doesn’t have the wherewithal or funds to do it herself (hiring the contractor, or coding the app). She’s trying to look pretty for boys in her class, worrying about what the bitch Jessie said to Brittany about Cloe who likes Brian even though he so likes Ciara, and sitting in her room listening to 21 pilots or whoever. That’s my take anyway.
After trying to reason with the Reddit mob failed to work, Harshita Arora reached out to her industry friends for help. They suggested that she begin to use social media, and direct contact, to talk with the employers or anyone with authority over her harassers.
Arora and her friends followed this plan of action, and it worked. Apparently, businesses and universities think it looks really bad for a 35-year-old male employee of theirs to openly harass a teenager online. Some of her trolls actually apologized to her, and the woman who kind of started the whole thing off with her blog post took it down.
I’m glad to have friends who’ve supported me in the last 2-3 days of getting targetted online harassment and threats from people who apparently have opinions about me and my project based on false accusations and inconclusive evidence.
— Harshita Arora (@aroraharshita33) February 6, 2018
Arora does feel some sense of justice, but the entire ordeal has left her shaken. Who would have thought developing a Bitcoin app would lead to rape and death threats? While she didn’t write all of the code, she was the designer, and she did what every developer has ever done: hire someone to handle an aspect of the project that they’re unable to do.
As for her work on Crypto Price Tracker, Arora says:
People, programmers especially, think of design as just bring able to generate color, text and use software. They underestimate how much work it takes and how much you need to think about UX and UI. It took me longer to design app from scratch than programming.
Lastly, she says that she never sold herself as a genius who created an awesome app. She offers:
I don’t want to be called a prodigy. It’s not what I am. It sounds like I’m trying to tell people I’m smarter than them. It sounds I’m trying to be superior, when I don’t want to be. I reply to everyone who asks me question or asks for resources, I am trying to learn things myself.
In the end, the internet can be incredible for helping people learn and connect. But it can also allow people to become the worst aspect of themselves as they’re not facing the target of their abuse and feel as powerful as an 800 pound gorilla from behind the anonymity and safety of their monitor.
What do you think about Harshita Arora’s ordeal caused by Reddit trolls? Have you tried her Bitcoin app? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Flickr/@Hans Splinter, Twitter/@aroraharshita33, and Bitcoinist archives.