The one thing that came with the popularity of the Internet and smartphones are apps. Right now their is an app for probably anything you can think of. Some of them are trash, some are very useful. Belonging to the useful category are apps that crowd source opinions and information. For instance, Glassdoor lets you rate companies and workplaces, Yelp lets you rate schools, restaurants etc, Trip Advisor, Foursquare, you get the idea. These apps are great and most of the times help you in making a decision.
All this is well and good. But imagine a similar app where you could rate people. Someone thought it would be a great idea to crowd source opinions about people and make it public knowledge. The app, called Peeple and set for a November release, has been founded by Nicole McCullough and Julia Corday and here’s how they are describing Peeple:
“People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions. Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?”
The above statement is, in a nutshell, the pitch for their app, one that they have been using in front of development companies, private shareholders, and Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Wait for it gets more interesting, as of Monday the company’s shares make it worth $7.6 million. The co-founders are pitching Peeple as the positivity app which they think will help us to better choose who we hire, do business with, date, become our neighbours, roommates, landlords/tenants, and teach our children.
In order to review someone on the app you need to be at least 21 years old, must have an established Facebook account and review using your real name. You must also first confirm that you know that person in one of the three categories: personal, professional or romantic. Also, since anyone can make a page about you and start reviews on it, one thing they would need before doing that is your mobile number.
Are you annoyed yet by the gaping privacy and integrity issues this app presents? The app’s potential user base is so offended by the whole concept of this app, many of them have gone so far as to suggest why it even exists. The app wants to promote positivity but, ironically enough, the main thing they are violating is the privacy of a person. How would you feel if someone made a profile about you where people began rating you and started giving reviews? The CEO of the company, came forth with the approach that they would allow people to opt out from the option of allowing anyone to make their profile. That did not go well with people; their Facebook page is currently flooding with negative comments.
Furthermore, reviews and comments on such websites are biased. Some time ago, an app called Rate My Professor was released and as the name suggests students could use it to rate their teachers. Now the reviews over there were based on personal bias and did not take the teacher’s skills in consideration. How are you supposed to make an opinion from that? Peeple will probably end up being something like that. In a post on their Facebook page, they tried to defend the idea by saying:
“People are genuinely good even though Yelp has over 47 million reviews and all the users are anonymous and in that 47 million reviews there are 79% positive reviews.”
This does not change the fact that the idea of the app is unethical because you are rating your fellow human beings, it doesn’t matter if your review is positive or negative. The CEO has said that they would take down any comment that a person cites as inaccurate and if the response from the beta testers is not entirely overwhelming they may professionalize and morph into something like LinkedIn.
However, once the app is actually released that is when any final judgment can be made about Peeple, but according to the team behind the app if Peeple is a success you will be definitively seen by how an online crowd defines you to be. Will you be able to live with that?