Peeple App is Back, And It’s Terrible

A new people-rating app called Peeple was signaling a debut last fall but it was met with press that was almost exclusively negative. It looked like a bad idea that wasn’t going to get off the ground, which would have been fine with us. We wrote at the time, “Peeple might be the worst app ever.”

Sure enough, the app went into hibernation and was quickly forgotten.

Peeple app logoThe folks behind Peeple decided to relaunch the app last week and the press are again completely unforgiving.

USA Today: Peeple app [is a] new low for online comments

Neurogadget: Peeple App is the New Yelp for People, and it’s Scary

Chrissy Teigen via CBS News, “In an age where both truth and gossip on the Internet can literally ruin lives, this #peeple app is horrible AND scary.”

The idea behind the app is that new users connect using their Facebook account, then can write a review for any person, positive or negative. You don’t have to be Facebook friends to write a review. If the person you review is not yet a Peeple user, you can invite them to join and see your review.

Imagine your teen getting the following message via Facebook: “Person X has reviewed you. Download the Peeple app to see what they said about you.” There aren’t many teens who would ignore a message like that.

If Peeple takes off, you can expect a new wave of cyberbullying, teacher bashing and random trolling.

To be fair, Peeple users do have some protections, but only if they’re willing to join Peeple. For example, after joining, new users can decide which reviews appear in their profile. If you do choose to join to see the reviews, and make the negative ones hidden, they aren’t deleted, they are just hidden. Only the reviewer can delete a review. And as TechCruch reports, the company plans to open all reviews to paying members at some point in the future.

The app’s stated age limit is 21, but don’t expect that to stop anybody. If your teen downloads Peeple, or is tempted to, we strongly suggest that you discourage them.

 

 

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Peeple App Backs Off Original Positioning

Consider this a win for the good guys.

peeple-appIn case you missed it last week (see: Peeple Might Be the Worst Social App Ever), the Peeple app was previewed for a November launch and promised to offer a way for anyone to publicly do an online review of anyone else, as long as some conditions were met. The subject of the reviews would not be able to opt out, and many including us had serious questions about how they would monitor reviews and keep a lid on abuse.

After the initial backlash, it appears that the founders have had second thoughts. Founder Julia Cordray took to LinkedIn yesterday to announce some changes, claiming that the original mission of the app was misunderstood. Perhaps she was smarting from all the abuse that she was taking online. According to her post:

“That’s why Peeple is focused on the positive and ONLY THE POSITIVE as a 100% OPT-IN system. You will NOT be on our platform without your explicit permission. There is no 48-hour waiting period to remove negative comments. There is no way to even make negative comments. Simply stated, if you don’t explicitly say “approve recommendation”, it will not be visible on our platform.”

That is totally different from what was previewed last week, and most likely ensures that the app will not be a hit. Only users who opt in can now be reviewed, and reviews will only become public after the subject approves them.

We’re not saying that you don’t have the right to have a negative opinion of someone – you do. However, a platform that makes it as easy as possible to publicly post negative subjective reviews and cyberbullying is not something the online world needs. Looks like this app will be dead on arrival.

Edit: The website and the company’s social media accounts have gone dark, for now at least.

 

 

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Peeple Might Be The Worst Social App Ever

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.

peeple-appWe’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.

Read a very thoughtful take on Peeple from a real life twenty something here.

 

 

 

 

 

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