New App ‘Peeple’ Is Probably The Most Terrifying Concept Ever
I predict this isn’t going to end well.
Yelp is bad enough — with the constant onslaught of revenge reviews and inaccurate information permeating the site. It’s enough to make anyone skip the review process entirely and what’s that? Oh, yeah, form an actual independent opinion. But the new Peeple app is truly striking fear and anger into my heart.
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new app in development called Peeple, and it allows you to rate other people. As if they’re a service or a brand, and not an actual, living, breathing person. It’s getting difficult not to spout profanity while writing this.
Being called the “Yelp for humans,” Peeple was founded by Nicole McCullough and Julia Cordray, two women who literally have zero understanding of how the world functions, and how people relate to each other. Their pitch sounds like a bad college presentation: “People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions,” said Cordray. “Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?”
Because people aren’t cars. I never thought I’d have to make that distinction. People are dehumanized enough in our society, in which social media turns people into brands, and the anonymity of the internet fosters negativity, bullying and intense vitriol.
Imagine having every single encounter you’ve ever had with any other human suddenly plastered all over the internet, a five-star rating system floating next to your head, and no way to opt out of it?
That’s right: you have no power over your own name. If someone decides to enter you in the database, there you are. If you’re not getting chills right now, you may be a robot.
In order to enter someone into the database, you have to have their phone number. (I’ll wait while you change your number and/or chuck your cell phone out the window.) The original plan, which Facebook thankfully scuppered because it was in violation of the API, was to pull names directly from that service. (I’ll wait while you delete your Facebook page.)
The app was designed and developed presumably to “showcase your character” online, a theory that McCullough proudly, naively states. It was also meant to be a sort of background-check app, making sure that people with whom you or your children interact are safe. Again, another absurd and naive notion. This is the bathroom wall, without the walls. If we thought Facebook was impinging on our personal space, we have another thing coming.
But another aspect of the app that makes no sense is that if you don’t have an account, your profile will only show positive reviews—so what’s the point in making an account? What’s the incentive?
Positive ratings will post immediately, while the negative ones are queued for 48 hours and reviewed.
But the truly ming-bogglingly stupid thing about this app is that it reduces human beings to a number value, and gives them a rating based on biases and inaccurate anecdotes.
The Washington Post reviewed the app and their scathing summary says it all:
It’s inherently invasive, even when complimentary. And it’s objectifying and reductive in the manner of all online reviews. One does not have to stretch far to imagine the distress and anxiety that such a system would cause even a slightly self-conscious person; it’s not merely the anxiety of being harassed or maligned on the platform — but of being watched and judged, at all times, by an objectifying gaze to which you did not consent.
This is it. This is the apocalypse.