So This Needs To Be Said About Peeple App

Well Google, looks like you get a week off – enjoy!

This is not a typical post topic type for me, but I just felt like I had to write this post.

Melissa Mackey did a great live and unfiltered Periscope on the Peeple app and I’ve been tweeting with people about this since the big announcement yesterday. In case you missed it, the Peeple app is being touted as, I kid you not, “Yelp for People” as if that is in any way a good thing. Clearly these women have never dealt with Yelp as business owners – it can be nightmarish and there is NO mechanism to protect businesses from it. It can be hard for businesses to not take things posted on Yelp very personally.

Imagine a world where ANYONE can rate ANYONE ELSE without their knowledge or consent and say anything they want with absolutely no way for you to have negative, hurtful or untrue comments removed. They claim this won’t be a problem because (a) this is all about positivity and (b) negative reviews only show if you claim your listing – which it problematic because the first rule of reputation management of any kind is to claim your profiles so you know what is happening on them and also so no one else can claim them.

It’s bad enough to think about adults dealing with this return to high school mean girls and boys space, but what about kids who are already living it? Have we not, as a society learned anything at all about the very real and often very tragic consequences of bullying, especially the online variety? Oh, but the creators insist that their app will only be “a place of positivity”. Um, right. Has anyone with this project ever actually been on the internet? Cause I gotta say, it is not a very positive place a lot of the time…

 

I was happy to see that the backlash to this app’s announcement was loud and swift. Mashable had a great piece you can find here, along with the Washington Post’s piece, calling the app “terrifying” here.

The founders took the opportunity of a Newsweek interview to defend their app. Wow.

From Newsweek’s piece:

The Canadian entrepreneur (Julia Cordray) founded Peeple with her best friend, Nicole McCullough, a mother who wanted to create a product that could help her identify trustworthy babysitters or neighbors—people who would be interacting with her kids.

I just want to tweet to her that there already is an app for that, it’s called Care.com you idiots.

Founder Julia Cordray also said this gem:

We have more integrity features and more accountability features built in than most online ratings systems today. I can appreciate, when people found out the world was actually round and not flat, and that we revolved around the sun instead of the sun revolving around us, there was tons of fear and uproar. We need to keep in mind that with any new concept and any new idea, there’s always going to be some fear and some concern.

Honey, you created a mean girls app that has the potential to ruin lives, you didn’t discover a new planet, species or cure a disease. Dial it down.

“This is a positivity app,” she says, “and we do not mean any harm. We don’t intend to cause harm. This isn’t about that.”

Again, I say, spend a couple of hours on the internet and see how positive you feel after that. Google “complaints business owners have about Yelp” and think about that applied to individual human beings. Think about how YOUR children would react if they got a slew of notifications about negative reviews being written about them? Even if they never claimed their profile so the reviews were not made public. Real damage can be done to real people even if the reviews are not posted publicly.

They claim that it will only apply to people over 21, that they will somehow manage to keep people younger than that from figuring out how to post about kids younger than 21. Good luck with that. Hint – you just enter a birth date that makes the person 21 – voila! Will they really be policing this and removing profiles that were set up for teens? And plenty of damage can be done to people over the age of 21 too.

But, then today, in the category of you just can’t make this stuff up – one of the app’s founders was actually bitching about being judged online.

It was also reported in the Newsweek piece that people who left comments voicing the displeasure or uncomfortableness with this app were blocked from their Facebook page.

Dawson visited Peeple’s Facebook page on Wednesday night to register her discomfort, but she was banned from the page, along with others. She also blogged about how the app has the potential for serious harm.

The complete lack of self-awareness would be really quite funny if the topic in question were not so serious.

The founders talk excitedly in several pieces about the interest of venture funding. I think these venture funders need to hear from people who think this is not something the world needs. If no one else has yet, let me be the first to say so – this should not be funded. And firms thinking of investing in this, please think twice. Do you really want to have to explain your involvement in this when the inevitable suicide results? Do you want to look your family, friends, your childrens’ friends’ parents or just other human beings in the eye when this thing inevitablely devolves into the worst possible version of itself?

I remain hopeful that common sense will win out and this thing will never see the light of day because we, as a society, said no thanks.

Comments

  1. PREACH IT SISTA! My favorite commentary on this so far, other than yours and mine 🙂 , is this Washington Post gem on Peeple for Disney Characters: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2015/10/01/peeple-is-a-terrible-idea-as-proof-here-is-peeple-for-disney-characters/

  2. Lisa Sanner says:

    I was sick to my stomach when I read about this app. What a completely horrible, no good, very bad idea. People (girls, boys, men, women) are especially mean and cruel online especially with anonymity. How very naive of the founders. Shame on them!

  3. Katy Tonkin says:

    The argument that the founders’ intent was to “lift people up” might very well be true, but like Lisa said, it’s a terribly naive and potentially devastating idea that needs to be squashed. I’m honestly just as outraged by the venture capitalists funding them.

    And find it also extremely ironic that this was snapped from her FB profile: https://twitter.com/Clare_OC/status/649529446249201664/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

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