We need to talk about Peeple—the Yelp-like app that actually rates people
You can rate everything online: restaurants, college classes, movies, the works. Well, not everything. You can’t rate people online. But soon, you will be able to. And others will be able to rate you, whether you like it or not.
In November, we’ll see the launch of Peeple, an app that allows you to rate everyone you know on a one-to-five star scale, reports Washington Post. You can rate your ex, your neighbor, your co-worker, your boss. And here’s the thing: once someone puts your name into the system, you can’t get rid of it unless you violate the app’s terms of service, and you can’t delete any “bad or biased” reviews of yourself. (However, while positive ratings post immediately, negative ratings first appear in a private inbox for 48 hours in case you want to dispute them; if you haven’t registered for the site, your profile will only show positive reviews.) As the co-founders explain on the app’s website:
One of the app’s founders, Julia Cordray, told Washington Post when inquired about possible bullying or shaming that the Peeple’s “integrity features” are rigorous — you must be 21 to review anyone, you must have a Facebook account (an established one — not one you made five minutes ago), and you can’t make reviews anonymously or with a pseudonym. You also must list how you know a person, whether that’s romantically, personally, or professionally, and to add a new person into the database who has never before been reviewed, you must know their cell phone number. However, as Washington Post notes, to Cordray’s “visible annoyance,” the founders weren’t able to automatically scrape names from Facebook.
“People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions,” Cordray told Washington Post. “Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?”
Cordray sees this as another way you can develop your own personal brand and “showcase your character” online, while her co-founder, Nicole McCullough, sees it as a mothering tool to be able to tell who you can trust around your children. The founders also note that profanity, sexism, and violation of privacy will not be tolerated. “As two empathetic, female entrepreneurs in the tech space, we want to spread love and positivity,” Cordray told Washington Post. “We want to operate with thoughtfulness.”
The two have created a web series to hype up the app. In episode 10, Cordray herself says to a guy at a bar, “It doesn’t matter how far apart we are in likes or dislikes. All that matters is what people say about us.”
No matter how many rules are set in place, this doesn’t exactly seem like a “thoughtful” app that spreads “love and positivity.” It seems like an app that puts the focus not on inner confidence and self-love, but on reviews from other people. Assigning a number value of someone’s worth and allowing one’s every action to be scrutinized under public lens doesn’t sound beneficial in any sense of the word. The Internet can be a wonderful place, where we can look up a restaurant with a few taps of our finger and find out if it’s worth going to — but a person? There’s something deeply and truly fundamentally wrong with this concept at its core, especially if you take into account that there’s no way to opt out of the site and keep your privacy intact.
Peeple has since received heavy amounts of criticism on Twitter, with many claiming that it shouldn’t even be legal.
Peeple raised $250,000 in seed capital in just two weeks, and as of Monday, the company was worth $7.6 million in shares. We can only hope that the founders listen to Twitter’s criticism. In an update on the site, the co-founders wrote, “Innovators are often put down because people are scared and they don’t understand. . . We are a positivity app launching in November 2015. Whether you love us or our concept or not; we still welcome everyone to explore this online village of love and abundance for all.”
(Image via Paramount Pictures.)