Is The ‘Peeple’ App Just An Elaborate Hoax?
A few days ago we brought you news of a terrifying app called Peeple. The app was supposed to be in development and set for release at the end of November, and its purpose was horrifying.
Basically, the app let users rate their friends/enemies/acquaintances on a five-point scale, and leave “reviews” for people as if they were a business. Called the “Yelp for people,” the app’s founders had to deal with an onslaught of criticism and vitriol for their misguided app idea, most of which was based on the fact that anyone with your phone number could add you to the app, without your consent.
Horrifying, huh? Well, it looks like the whole app may be just an elaborate hoax, the purpose of which remains to be seen.
The first whispers that the app may be somewhat less than real came from Snopes.com, the website known for mythbusting Internet stories and revealing the truth. On that page were included several clues that suggested this app couldn’t have been developed in such a short time.
For example, before the announcement of the app on September 30th, there was little to no mention of the app at all on the Internet. Then there’s the fact that the rules and restrictions of Peeple the app were so confusing that they seemed to contradict each other, or had an entirely different purpose altogether. Copy from co-founder Julia Cordray’s website, published on August 1st, seemed to suggest that Peeple was more like LinkedIn:
“Now we’ve innovated again and made Peeple, which is the next generation of recruitment in an app where you can find talent geographically through key word searches and see how talented they really are professionally as commented on and rated by their peers.”
“Talented professionally” and “Character is Destiny” are two very, very different philosophies.
Other clues point to the messiness of this whole affair, if not its outright hoax status. Snopes is certain that the app was never even thought of until August 2015, which gives the app almost no time for development and approval by the App Store, for “beta testing” the co-founders said they were conducting, and to make up for the fact that there’s another app called Peeple currently available in the App Store.
And then there’s something else, something small, that an eagle-eyed reader pointed out: that the app’s Twitter page was created on April 1st. April Fool’s joke?
— Josh Scherr (@joshscherr) October 1, 2015
Then there’s the fact that as of now, the app’s website is either inaccessible or just redirects to a static landing page. The Facebook page has vanished, Twitter’s is inaccessible and the Instagram has been set to private. These actions may be in response to the virtual avalanche of hate mail and criticism the app and its founders have received, or it may be something else.
So, hoax or not? It seems likely, but co-founder Julia Cordray is insisting otherwise. In a blog post published to her LinkedIn on October 4th, the co-founder insisted that their app doesn’t function the way people said it would, and that the intense negative feedback she received was proof “why we need Peeple, the positivity app I’m building.”
In it she writes about the negative comments she received after The Washington Post article went live. She cited the negative comments as proof positive that there needs to be more positivity in the world, despite the fact that airing opinions is a protected right in the civilized world. Cordray would have you think that “negative comments” should not be made “without your approval.” What about freedom of speech? Should all comments be positive despite bad behavior?
And then she contradicts everything she had said about her app’s function:
That’s why Peeple is focused on the positive and ONLY THE POSITIVE as a 100% OPT-IN system. You will NOT be on our platform without your explicit permission. There is no 48 hour waiting period to remove negative comments. There is no way to even make negative comments. Simply stated, if you don’t explicitly say “approve recommendation”, it will not be visible on our platform.
People have responded to this ridiculous essay by citing Cordray’s previous explanation of the app:
I think we are going to have more positive than negative, but you can’t please everybody so … I think it’s important to know the negative too. I wouldn’t want this app to just be positive. We want to know ‘did he steal from you? Did she steal from you? Were they abusive? Um … do they have anger issues? Do they lie all the time? Are they narcissistic?’ I mean, these are the things that are more valuable in knowing versus little egocentric things. We don’t live in a fairytale land. This isn’t candyland where we just want to know the best in everybody. I think this app does really help to know and find the best in each of us and the good in each of us, but it would be pointless if it was all positive.
I’ve had enough of this ridiculous idea, but I have another theory. If the app does exist, it will, in fact, be useless. But the app’s development will be filmed and posted to Youtube, and we’ve already witnessed the meteoric rise of the two founders after the announcement of the app.
Was it all for fame/notoriety? I have a feeling that the founders are after something else other than spreading positivity and denigrating the ability of others to share valid opinions: the cynic in me smells a reality show.