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 column, Washington 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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