Scheduled to launch around November, Peeple, the Yelp for people, could very well be the app that does the most damage to individuals’ self esteem in the social media landscape. Everyone’s reputation could be at risk.
We’re willing to bet that it doesn’t launch in the form that the founders described yesterday to the Washington Post and covered by The Verge and others, but stranger things have happened.
According to Peeple’s website, their mission is questionable from the get go, and fraught with all kinds of negative possibilities:
“Peeple is an app that allows you to rate and comment about the people you interact with in your daily lives on the following three categories: personal, professional, and dating. Peeple will enhance your online reputation for access to better quality networks, top job opportunities, and promote more informed decision making about people.”
There are some terms and conditions that will/might/probably won’t limit the trolls out there. According to yesterday’s press coverage
- You need to be 21 and a Facebook user with an account at least six months old to make a review of someone (Facebook doesn’t verify user age so good luck with that safeguard}
- Reviewers must use their real name (again, we assume the Facebook link serves to verify your name, but it’s easy to establish and entirely fake Facebook persona)
- People who have been reviewed can report anything inaccurate back to the site
- To review someone who is not in the Peeple database, you have to add their cell phone number (no idea how this will work in practice, since we’re not sure that Peeple will send a text message verifying that it’s you)
The article at The Verge does a good job wading through the uncertainties in the case of negative reviews:
“…there’s currently no way for users to opt-out of Peeple. Anyone can sign up anyone else if they have their cell number, and although only positive reviews are shown on the profiles of people who haven’t signed up, members of the public can’t see their reviews unless they join. It’s also not clear whether negative reviews are judged to be so based only on the star rating or whether the actual content is also taken into account. If just the former, it means that users could give people extremely negative reviews but a good star rating, with the targets of these write-ups never knowing about them unless they signed up.”
That’s a lot to think about.
According to an preview of Peeple in the Washington Post:
“One does not have to stretch far to imagine the distress and anxiety that such a system would cause even a slightly self-conscious person; it’s not merely the anxiety of being harassed or maligned on the platform — but of being watched and judged, at all times, by an objectifying gaze to which you did not consent.”
That is a very important consideration in our view. Telling someone to their face that they are a nasty person, or did a bad job, or took you on a bad date is one thing; posting it publicly online and linking it to their real name and cell phone number is another entirely.
We don’t wish failure on anyone, but we hope this app doesn’t launch as currently contemplated, and if it does, that it never get off the ground.
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