Photo: Kim Wiens
Imagine you suddenly receive a text message from an unknown number—it claims your ex created a profile for you on an app called Peeple, and the message encourages you to go check out what they have to say about you. You follow through and find you only have 48 hours to sort out the negative review with your ex, otherwise the comment is posted and stays on your undeletable profile for a year. Scary, right?
This is exactly what two women, Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough, had originally conceived. Their proposed app was met with public scorn from the likes of the CBC and American model Chrissy Teigen when its concept went viral in late September of this year.
Dubbed the “Yelp for humans”, Peeple has since revised and revamped its application, which will remain in beta stages until November 2015. It is now branding itself as a lovey-dovey, positivity app. In the words of the founders, they were “humbled to admit that previous versions of Peeple’s policies were ill conceived.”
You don’t say. Really, who would’ve thought that a human rating app requiring no consent from the target of possible slander would be problematic? 7 per cent of internet users report they’ve been the victim of cyberbullying, with 11 per cent of social network site users reported to be victims of cyberbullying, according to Statistics Canada. People engage in cyberbullying for the same sense of power that people engage in physical bullying for, except with the added benefit of Internet anonymity.
Should Peeple’s new platform be welcomed with open arms? Perhaps there won’t be any more cyberbullying on this tool than other social sites, but it could easily become a cesspit of handpicked adulation, feeding into the perception that social media is a narcissist’s wet dream.
Not to worry though, as Cordray has promised that the app would now be 100 per cent opt-in, allowing users to approve or reject each review, and that they “always meant for Peeple to be all about positivity.”
However her YouTube video entitled “Peeple Watching Webisode 4—Founder’s Space”, originally published in late August and later reuploaded by other users, seems to say otherwise. Around the 1:55 mark, she states that an app that was all positive would be pointless, and that she “wouldn’t want this app to just be positive.”
It seems, that Peeple didn’t want to acknowledge its own negative reviews as the administrators were accused of deleting comments from its Facebook page, a page that now, along with a Twitter account, most of the website’s content, and a webisode series, no longer exists. Peeple’s creators were eager to remove all incriminating material in order to start fresh—something which was, ironically, impossible to do on the first version of the app.
However, as archived screen captures of its website’s prior postings reveal, “Peeple app reserves the right to change any features in their app now and in the future.”
While the founders are putting in a huge effort in the redesign to give the app a positive spin, the apps imminent release raises an important question—will people give this besmirched tool a fresh start, much less remember its name?