It turns out the “Yelp of people” won’t be hitting the world wide web after all.
Over the past few days, the contentious “Peeple” app broke the internet. Pledging to be the “Yelp of people,” the app planned to offer a platform through which you could rate other people on a five-star scale, and negative comments wouldn’t be removed for at least 48 hours. Perhaps the most controversial feature was that other people would be able to make a profile for you and then rate and comment their hearts away without any permission on your end.
Of course, any sane person can predict that the ripple effects of such an app would be downright heinous. Seeing a profile posted about yourself in a publicly accessible place is already uncomfortable enough, but sifting through negative ratings and rude comments is enough to send anyone over the edge. The internet has already generated a problem with cyber bullying and other nasty interactions, so it’s safe to say we could do without an app whose sole purpose is to foster those negative (often racist, sexist, and homophobic) sentiments.
Most people on the internet seemed to agree. After news struck that Peeple would be the new platform for human-rating, individuals turned to Facebook and Twitter to express their utmost disgust with the concept. Media outlets trashed the app, and the whole idea was put under fire.
Now, if you visit Peeple’s website you’ll see an error page. Interestingly, Peeple has a new page called “forthepeeple.com,” with a homepage that reads “Join the positive revolution, #Oct12.” According to BBC, one of the founders of the app, Julia Cordray, hinted that the app would be taking a much different direction: "I want the world to be positive and this is how I'm going to inspire it by creating the world's largest positivity app."
In fact, Cordray made an announcement on LinkedIn attempting to explain her side of the story. She says the whole thing snowballed when she mistakenly referred to her app as the “Yelp of people” to the Washington Post, but that she’s always intended for it to be positive. Now, instead of being unable to delete negative comments for 48 hours, Cordray says Peeple won’t allow any negative comments at all. In her announcement, she stated, “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.”
Without its five-star rating and negative comment features, the app might be comparable to already-existing positive platforms like LinkedIn. But perhaps Peeple would be geared more toward the social sphere instead of the professional one.
Was the whole thing just a PR stunt to get people talking about Peeple? Or did it take an internet uproar to make the company realize just how terrible their idea was? We may never know, but one thing’s for sure: society just dodged a bullet. A “Yelp of people” wouldn’t have ended pretty.