In response to the COVID‐19 pandemic, governments around the world turned to contact‐tracing applications in an attempt to balance the reopening of the economy with keeping the virus at bay. But as this article demonstrates, contact‐tracing applications not only fail to protect the most vulnerable among us; they also shift responsibility for failing to prepare public‐health systems for a pandemic away from governments and onto the individual user struggling to contain its worst effects. In the process, contact‐tracing applications change the definition of failure. They also reinforce existing inequalities. Technology in this case not only has politics; it prevents politics. By focusing on contact‐tracing applications as an example, the article points to some of the deeper perils of accepting app‐based solutions to structural problems.