An app called Peeple has launched in beta, offering to “[revolutionise] the way we’re seen in the world” by allowing those we know — or, at least, those who have our phone number — to review us, just like Yelp does for businesses.
According to The Washington Post, the founders, Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough, aim to create the app in just 90 days. Peeple currently has a valuation of $US7.6 million (£5 million) based on the amount invested, which is around $US250,000 (£165,000). The app will launch in November, although a beta version is available now.
Unsurprisingly, the idea of rating anyone, and having those reviews publicly visible, hasn’t gone down well with the general public. Peeple is very reminiscent of Lulu, an app that let women rate boyfriends, which left the UK after it failed to take off here.
y’know what people with anxiety/depression/low self esteem/anyone needs? a solid, online record of people judging them. A+ app of the year
— Lucy Morris (@lucyamorris) October 1, 2015
The founders claim that Peeple does work to prevent the slandering of others, but some users are dubious. To review another person, users must possess a person’s phone number and be over the age of 21 (according to their Facebook profile, at least). Positive reviews are posted immediately while negative reviews have a 48 hour probation period, in which time the recipient can dispute them.
Interestingly, the app lets users set up an account for anyone with a phone number. The site’s FAQ describes the process like this: “You will need their cell phone number to start their profile and they will receive a text that you were the person to start their profile and that they should check out what you said about them on our app.”
Also exceptional defamation potential. And good god, the school/uni bullying potential. And everything else awful about the idea.
— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) October 1, 2015
The founders describe Peeple as “spread[ing] love and positivity” but the downsides are obvious. Public ratings on Yelp are already enough of an issue and they are for businesses, not people, so it’s easy to envisage just how badly Peeple could affect the lives of others.
While reviews have to be attached to a real name, bullying exists in schools — a place where everyone knows who the bully and victim is — and so this may not turn out to be a deterrent.
Cordray told The Washington Post that users can use the “feedback” from Peeple to their advantage, just as you would from your boss. Of course, it’s hard to foresee a teenager taking criticism from their friends in a public place well.
Ironically, the app’s founders are fairly adverse to public scrutiny. The Peeple Twitter account, @peepleforpeople, has already warned users that “[anyone] impersonating us and using our picture [will] be” reported to Twitter. The company’s Instagram profile, which is linked to from its blog, is also set to private. The Twitter account has also taken to insulting journalists.
Angry people have taken to Facebook and Twitter to express their disgust at an app that rates others publicly. A post on the Peeple facebook page has garnered only four likes to 188 comments, almost all of which are angry.
Business Insider has reached out to Peeple to ask for clarity on how exactly they will deal with the potential problems that the app will incur, such as harassment and bullying. We will update the post when we hear back.