In an age in which you can write reviews of your bus line and join a dating app exclusively for the tech and business elite, it only stands to reason that someone would come up with a review site for people. Think of it as Yelp for your exes, and your neighbors. Or Angie's List for friends and potential employees. It's called Peeple, and as the Washington Post reports, it's the terrifyingly ill-conceived new app idea from two women who don't seem to understand how horrible an idea this is, Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough. The app will allow everyone to review everyone else they know, whether they like it or not, and rate them on their integrity, professionalism, kindness, and whatever else.
Users would be able to publicly judge and rate anyone whom they can prove they know, so long as they're doing so under their real name (via Facebook), indicate whether they know them personally, professionally, or romantically. And once you've been reviewed you will be powerless to remove yourself from the system.
As if Secret weren't enough to drive people to suicide, or as if there weren't enough ways to harass, demean, or bully people online, Cordray and McCullough are trying to sell investors on the idea that this is, I kid you not, an earnest and good-hearted enterprise.
"As two empathetic, female entrepreneurs in the tech space, we want to spread love and positivity,” Cordray tells the Washington Post. "We want to operate with thoughtfulness." To that end, they claim that Peeple will not tolerate bullying, profanity, sexism, or revelations of private health conditions, but how, I ask you, do they expect to be able to monitor and correct for these things in real time when Twitter and Facebook are barely able to so?
Their solution, as well as it's been thought out, is as follows:
Positive ratings post immediately; negative ratings are queued in a private inbox for 48 hours in case of disputes. If you haven’t registered for the site, and thus can’t contest those negative ratings, your profile only shows positive reviews.
Oh, great! So even if I don't want whatever positive review my most recent ex just wrote about my sexual skills, veiled and backhanded as that review may be to elude the crack judgements of the app's moderator team, that will just exist on the internet for everyone and my mother to read.
Let's not even get into the fact that Yelp, and review sites as a concept, have always been fundamentally flawed, because crowdsourcing opinions leads immediately to issues of bias, extreme subjectivity, and blatant inaccuracy only people who love or hate something bother to write a review, and how do you know they aren't just crazy, self-selected critic that they are? The Post points to Rate My Professors, which has found that male and female professors get critiqued differently, and physically attractive teachers tend to get higher ratings (surprise).
Pointing to some gross simplicity of forethought, or simply a desire for information about potential babysitters that trumps all notions of decency or privacy, Cordray and McCullough suggest that their app won't cause harm, and it's just a mode of researching the people in your life. "People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions,” says Cordray. “Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?"
The pair are pitching the app to private shareholders and Silicon Valley VCs, and they claim to be aiming for a November beta launch.
Below you can hear Cordray pitching the idea to a couple of guys in a San Francisco bar, and they seem pretty skeptical!
Perhaps in response to the criticism they're already receiving via the Post piece, Cordray and McCullough have posted an earnest rebuttal on the app's website.
It reads, in part:
Innovators are often put down because people are scared and they don’t understand. We are bold innovators and sending big waves into motion and we will not apologize for that because we love you enough to give you this gift. We know you are amazing, special, and unique individuals and most likely would never shout that from the rooftops. The people who know you will though... You deserve better and to have more abundance, joy, and real authentic connections. You deserve to make better decisions with more information to protect your children and your biggest assets. You have worked so hard to get the reputation you have among the people that know you.
And what about the people who haven't worked so hard on their reputations, and are good at what they do but not very well liked? Or good at kissing? Or pretty?
As my LAist colleague Jean Strinh put it, "It's like the real life Burn Book."