People, let’s avoid Peeple like the plague

Screenshot of Peeple website

Screenshot of Peeple website

In this era of online trolling, bash-filled comments sections, cyberbullying, and the like, the last thing we need is a new social media app that invites us to rate and evaluate, well, practically anyone and everyone.

But the creators of Peeple don’t see it that way. Using the creepy (in this context) tagline, “character is destiny,” they are launching a social media site that will allow individuals to rate their friends, co-workers, dates (current or former), family members, and acquaintances. Here’s a snippet from their online description.

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.

Authentic and relevant information about you and others you interact with is paramount to our vision for this app. Users will require a Facebook account to access the application, to verify and validate the minimum age requirement. To prevent multiple and fake profiles users will also need to validate that they are a real person with their cell phone number which will then text them a pin to login with.

I wanted to write about Peeple earlier this week, when I first spied news articles about it and started hearing from others asking my opinion. But I had to resist the pull to launch into an immediate diatribe; waiting a few days was the blogging equivalent of counting to ten instead of replying immediately to something outrageous.

Thankfully, in an excellent columnWashington Post digital culture critic Caitlin Dewey has already written much of what should be said about this new launch:

When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know . . . . You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

. . . It’s inherently invasive, even when complimentary. . . . 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.

Nevertheless, if you scroll through the Peeple website and read Dewey’s full column, you’ll see that Peeple’s co-founders, “Nicole” and “Julia,” think of themselves as pioneering, empathetic entrepreneurs who simply want to make us better human beings. In fact, they even claim to be supporters of the anti-bullying movement:

Our mission is to find the good in you. Peeple has shown active support to the anti-bullying movement by providing users the ability to report other users. Negative comments don’t go live on the app for 48 hours; they simply go into the inbox of the person who got the negative review and then are given a chance to work it out with the person who wrote the review. If you can’t work it out with the person you can publicly defend yourself by commenting on the negative review.

Peeple has already stirred up a hornets’ nest of criticism, and for good reason. This is pretty sick stuff. The sunny worldview presented by the app’s early marketing borders on the delusional. I normally don’t like to use such strongly condemning language here, but this is a terrible idea.

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6 responses

  1. Can life get any more horrid? I personally do not grow and evolve by having others watching and evaluating me. As a matter of fact, nothing can get my worst behavior and attitude faster. I hope these people get what I call a “psychic slam”, where the severely negative reaction from others reacting to their cheery, life will be better and better message with a resounding slam of the door. NO! NO! to this app.

  2. Interesting article. One of my concerns would be the possible legal ramifications of posting something negative about a former or current co-worker, supervisor, etc.

    Wouldn’t that style of communication place the commentators at legal risk of libel and slander?

    Thank you, David, for sharing the article with us.

  3. Ah gee, I was so looking forward to rating and reviewing all the workplace bullies I’ve had to deal with, even though the app doesn’t provide for minus 5-star ratings. And then to deliciously wait for up to 2 days while these conscienceless, sociopathic half-humans ponder how to reply, retaliate, or “work it out” with me.

    If the power-abusing workplace jerks had had the inclination or ability to “work out” their anti-social, sick aggressions, malice, and hostilities like rational, grounded, real and civil human beings, they wouldn’t have bullied me in the first place!

    Character is destiny? Not hardly for HR’s and employer attorneys’ favorite little bullies. A realistic way to address workplace bullies lack of conscience and character is through efforts similar to Healthy Workplace Legislation requiring participation in some kind of third-party tribunal.

    Dear Peeple peeps, don’t waste your time and money creating opportunities for flame wars and downward spiraling antipathies.

  4. Bullying taken to a whole new level. I would think it could be potentially libelous, and also ripple out a lot of danger and confusion. It should be shut down before it even starts.

  5. This idea doesn’t seem to promote “the good in you”. It will be used primarily as a retribution channel by anyone frustrated, disgruntled, disappointed, angry worker/friend/customer/date out there.

    We, humans are divinely pleased when served delusional proof that ‘justice was served’. When major wrongdoing takes place, we take the guilty to courts. If it’s just a nuisance, we file an official complaint. In the digital space, we ‘report’ them, sometimes even without a valid reason, just to get back at them somehow. All those measures achieve just that – provide the feeling that justice was done. Eye for an eye as the old testament preaches.

    This social media is bound to invite all those in need to deliver quick punishment onto others. It will be biased, invasive, rude and above all else, hard to control.

  6. Kevin you have hit this one on the head well and truly. With already existing legal precedents relating to comments on Facebook (even between lawyers who should know better) and recent cases for compensation for stress and bullying arising out of being “unfriended on Facebook” and the judiciary comments about this that it could in some cases be considered bullying, why would one be so brainless as to opt into such an application and leave oneself open to the comments. Are we so that narcissistic that we constantly hahve to have nice things said about us. Don’t we already have enough problems with the rampant issue of children and online bullying creating low self esteem and impacting on suicide issues and depression. It’s about time some common sense prevailed in all this! Oops I forgot – common sense and rational thought have never ever made up there requirements for competency on any job or task.

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