TYLER SPRINGER | CONTRIBUTING OPINION COLUMNIST
Yelp, but for people. That’s what some are calling the idea behind the forthcoming app “Peeple,” set to launch next month.
The concept is simple. Users can rate friends, co-workers or others based on a five-star scale. They can then leave positive or negative comments on the person’s page, similar giving feedback on that restaurant eaten at last night. The only difference is that with Peeple, you are literally rating human beings.
As expected, people are not happy with Peeple. Many are voicing their opinions to chief executive officer of the app, Julia Cordray, arguing it is essentially a gateway for cyber bullying and unwanted criticism on the Internet. Cordray and her family have even received death threats, according to an article published in The Washington Post.
In the app’s original concept, users could create accounts for other people as long as they knew that person’s phone number. They could then post something about that person without the person being able to remove it, unless it violated the terms and conditions. If the person being reviewed already had an account, they would have 48 hours to review all negative comments before they would potentially be posted.
After getting an overwhelming amount of criticism herself, Cordray decided to make the app 100 percent opt-in, meaning that people who aren’t on the app can’t have an account created for them by someone else. Cordray is also stressing that the app is meant to spread positivity.
But is that really what this app will be used for? I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably not.
“It’s just uncomfortable to think about,” sophomore Maria Knox said. “I would for sure not get the app because I don’t feel like you should rate people.”
But keep in mind, we have rated people before. Does “Rate My Professor” sound familiar? Remember “Hot or Not?” You’re even essentially “rating” others by using Tinder. With Peeple, though, it’s not about looks, or how hard a chemistry professor’s class is. It’s about telling your co-worker, ex-bae or mother-in-law what you really think about them.
“It’s one thing to rate restaurants or stores, but these are humans who actually have emotions,” junior Danielle Daratony said. “It doesn’t seem very ethical.”
Even if users only allow positive comments written about them, I can foresee the app turning into a sort of digital elementary school yearbook. I mean, what kind of “positive” comments does the app expect to generate? “I really liked your shirt today!” Come on, this isn’t kindergarten.
Still, some see promise in the app as a networking tool.
“I think it has opportunity to be helpful, especially if it comes to hiring people, but I definitely see it having potential for cyber-bullying,” said senior Hanna Lucille. “There needs to be more thought gone into it to make sure that it’s used for professional reasons.”
Our cultural obsession with rating things continues. First it was movies. Then it was teachers. Then our babysitters. Now, we’ve officially gone off the deep end and are rating humans in the most general way possible while hiding behind our computer, tablet or phone screens.
How this app will be doing society any good, I have no idea, but if you haven’t received enough commentary about yourself through Twitter brawls, Yik Yak, and LinkedIn (hopefully only positive on that last one), then Peeple seems to be just the place for you.
Oh, look, I just got my first comment on Peeple. Let’s see what it says. “Tyler Springer’s column totally sucks.” Where’s the decline button again?