This could be the most odious idea the internet manages in 2015: Peeple is an app that lets people rate other people, whether they like it or not, and plans to launch in November.
The Yelp-like defamation-as-a-service – someone can put you in a database that you can't be taken off, rate you 1-to-5, and comment on you as a person – was conceived by Nicole McCullough and Julia Cordray.
Even The Washington Post, which got the PR drop, couldn't manage to miss the nasty potential of Peeple.
“Unfortunately for the millions of people who could soon find themselves the unwilling subjects — make that objects — of Cordray’s app, her thoughts do not appear to have shed light on certain very critical issues, such as consent and bias and accuracy and the fundamental wrongness of assigning a number value to a person,” WashPo's Caitlin Dewey writes.
The “features” (a word surely in need of its antonym by now) of the service also include:
- Opt-out: There is none. If someone puts you into the service so as to give you a low rating, tough. That's almost certainly a breach of privacy principles in some countries, but you can bet the terms and conditions will tell you the service will be covered by the laws of the State of California (or perhaps Delaware).
- Self-defence: You can respond to a nasty-gram, but Peeple won't delete stuff just because it's unbiased, unfair, or flat-out untrue.
- Security: Who knows? We're merely promised that the data will be stored in a secured Mongo database in the cloud.
The service promises to quarantine bad reviews for two days, giving the victim a chance to contact the reviewer and ask “why don't you like me?” – a mechanism which is, to The Register, far out-of-whack with real human behaviour.
And yes, Peeple wants its service to be used by employers and recruiters. A press release on its site – too cool for individual links, alas – says: “ This app will allow us to better choose who we hire, do business with, date, let babysit our kids, become our neighbors, roommates, landlords/tenants, and teach our children.”
Which is all well and good, but The Register also notes that there's no link to privacy policies or terms and service, as yet, even though these are cited in the FAQ.
The criticisms seem to be stinging. A YouTube video posted by Cordray and linked by the WashPo has been deleted, and there's this Facebook
rant post about a critical piece.
Peeple's deleted video at the Washington Post
Some hopeful souls believe the way to get around Peeple is to join, be abusive, and have your account removed for violating the terms and conditions...
So that idiot 'peeple' app thing's terms and conditions can be violated as follows: pic.twitter.com/SRMTn8zIEG— MuninrepeeK eroL (@munin) October 1, 2015
...which would be nice, if possible.
Perhaps, at this point, it's just as well to allow the CEO speak for herself, so here is the verbatim statement from Peeple's home page:
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…they choose to be around you and in your life and support you even when you don’t like yourself. We have come so far as a society but in a digital world we are becoming so disconnected and lonely. 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. 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. We are a positivity app launching in November 2015. Whether you love us or our concept or not; we still welcome everyone to explore this online village of love and abundance for all.
Better get a bucket … ®