Bedbug Panic Hits the Web: The Interactive MapS

In the mood for some bedbug-related fearmongering and/or pranks? Check out BedbugRegistry.com, where users catalog close encounters with the bloodsucking kind. Let us explore this terrorizing website and see whose lives we can ruin with it. Update: Bedbug Registry responds.

Bedbug Registry's homepage invites you to search for bugs with an interactive map or by inputting a street address or hotel name. You can generate a map of your neighborhood and submit anonymous reports. Browsing Gawker Media's neighborhood, I discovered our closest bedbug-infested neighbor is only three doors down. From 198 Elizabeth Street's report, emphasis mine:

Also found bed bugs on sticky trap in the hall of the building. Landlord treated apts has not yet send a notice to other people in the building (as promised) to get inspection. […] Have seen a tenant in apt 8 with suspicious red bumps all over his legs???

As the boldface sentence indicates, although Bedbug Registry means well, its methods are somewhat suspect. One could perhaps imagine a Beauty & the Beast "Kill the beast!" scene, angry townspeople waving custom-made pitchforks with cans of aerosol bug-repellent in place of tines. (I didn't say it was likely.) One could also imagine internet hooligans impersonating people they know to make their houses sound gross. Like this:

Bedbug Panic Hits the Web: The Interactive MapS

Apparently Bedbug Registry reviews the reports before posting them on the site. We'll see if our Barack report gets through. According to its FAQ, Bedbug Report has a Wikipedia-like method for noting "disputed" entries, but they don't remove reports "without the author's consent." It's the Facebook Places of bedbugs! [Bedbug Registry]

Update: Bedbug Registry's Maciej Ceglowski responds:

From: Maciej Ceglowski
To: Maureen O'Connor
Date: Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 7:43 PM
Subject: that bedbug graphic

Hi there, I run the Bedbug Registry.

So, I'm mildly annoyed that you've added to my workload by making me vet additional bogus posts (things auto-post to the site, and then I come through and clean house a few times a day). Based on running the site for a while, I would guess the posts are 90% real (and depressing) and 10% bogus. I'm not sure why you wanted to tip that balance further to 'useless', but it's your prerogative.

But what actually sucks is not using a silhouette of the right insect! I'd refer you to this glorious rant:

http://bedbugger.com/2010/08/21/bed...

Bedbugs are funny until you get them, then you turn into a freaking obsessive (as you can see amply demonstrated on the site). So, one of the reasons I run the site is to try to help people not get them (so they can remain funny).

Just throw us a bone here and at least use the right shaped insect outline, since we're still in a dark age when lots of people have no idea what the things look like.

Best,
Maciej

I updated the image (real bedbug is on the left; impostor is on the right) and asked whether Maciej worried that the red dots on his interactive map would turn into the scarlet letter of urban living.

At this point my worries have to line up outside the door, since they won't all fit in the apartment. The chief worry continues to be getting sued into a fine pink mist. But the idea that the bugs might be trying to spell out some terrifying message on the map (like in Gravity's Rainbow or Charlotte's Web) is not far behind.


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