After inciting the wrath, and occasional death threats, from the entire internet last week, the founder of that Peeple app dubbed the "Yelp for people" because it would allow everyone to review everyone else in their lives, for better or worse is now pivoting in the grand tradition of Silicon Valley. As SFGate reports, co-founder Julia Cordray is now scrambling to rebrand the app as "a positivity app," and now seems to suggest that negative reviews are off the table entirely. Also, unlike how the app was presented in the Washington Post a week ago, she's saying you will have to opt in in order to appear on the app at all.
Cordray writes, in a post on LinkedIn:
Since the interview with The Washington Post, I’ve received death threats and extremely insulting comments aimed at me, my investors, and my family on almost every social media tool possible...
I have surrounded myself with positive people for 34 years and I don’t plan on changing it now.
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.
I want the world to be positive and this is how I’m going to inspire it by creating the world’s largest positivity app.
But now the app doesn't sound like much of anything at all. You can "recommend" people you know for various skills? LinkedIn does that. Oh but it's going to be more free-form and you can write little essays about how wonderful someone is? Like I said before, that is automatically problematic given how easy it would be to write back-handed compliments about someone, but I suppose if you have to opt in that will hopefully protect people from unwanted reviews.
The website now just has a Join Waiting List button, but just a couple days ago, as the Wayback Machine shows us, it had a brief, defensive essay by Cordray about the positive nature of the app which reads like the ramblings of an idealistic college student trying weed for the first time. "As innovators we want to make your life better and have the opportunity to prove how great it feels to be loved by so many in a public space... Whether you love us or our concept or not; we still welcome everyone to explore this online village of love and abundance for all."
I think we can all agree that Cordray and partner Nicole McCullough hadn't really thought this one through sufficiently, and the backlash has forced them to think a little harder. Have they ever seen the internet before? It's a valid question.
Also, by the time this thing launches in November, is it going to make any sense? Probably not.