An app designed to rate people has caused an uproar of controversy on social media between free speech activists and those concerned with the impact it will have on humanity.
Peeple, the “Yelp for humans” was created to rate any fellow human — even a teenage babysitter — based on his or her personality, profession and romantic relationships.
Co-founders Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough’s vision for the app is to provide users a referral-based app that will give them information to make intelligent decisions on who they associate with, work with or even consider dating, according to the Peeple website before it was removed.
The app was originally designed to allow someone to create a profile in another person’s using only that person’s cell phone number. Once the profile is created, a text message would be sent to the person informing them that a profile has been created on their behalf and urging them to see what people think.
Negative feedback led the founders to make significant changes to the app’s policies, Cordray posted on LinkedIn. The platform is now 100 percent opt-in. Users will no longer be allowed to create profiles for other people. Posts can be reviewed and rejected if they do not comply with the user’s view and profiles can be deleted anytime.
“People are very hungry for content that helps them improve everything from their sleep to the way they interact with others,” Cordray wrote on LinkedIn. “There is a market for people who have an appetite for personalized data and feedback on themselves that allows for both personal empowerment and improvement.”
Peeple’s beta phase began earlier this month and will continue until November so “other kinks” can be worked out. “We aim to create a world-class user experience,” she wrote.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere and supermodel Chrissy Teigen both criticized the new app on their Twitter accounts.
“In an age where both truth and gossip on the Internet can literally ruin lives, this #peeple app is horrible AND scary #yelpforhumans??” Teigen tweeted.
Petitions against the app were created on change.org and on Care2’s petition page. Both petitions call on app stores to “prevent this application and all the problems that go with it,” according to change.org. The petitions have received nearly 40,000 signatures.
The app’s website, forthepeeple.com crashed multiple times due to the intense number of visitors, according to the app’s Facebook page, which has also become a social media battleground about the app. The website now displays a landing page where interested users can join a waiting list to test the beta Peeple app.
David Nelson, a BYU family life professor, described the app’s ranking system as “dehumanizing.” “It would only deepen our unfortunate tendency to base our sense of self on what we perceive others think of us,” Nelson wrote in an email.
Other platforms like RateMyProfessor.com allow users to rate a professor based on their performance. “Self-selection bias is rampant with such websites,” Nelson wrote. He also noticed that less than one percent of his students ever post anything to the website.
“The only people who leave reviews are the ones who harbor love or hate,” he wrote. “It’s all rather a useless enterprise.”
RateMyProfessor.com provides students with quick research and ratings on professors, colleges and universities. All content is user-generated, “built for college students by college students,” according to RateMyProfessor.com.
Michael Hussey, the founder of Rate My Professor posted a video about his thoughts about Peeple on Washington Post. “There is no context to it,” Hussey stated in the video. “We don’t score people on a scale from 1-10 as what kind of human being we are looking at here.”
BYU students have concerns about the app as well.
“It could be used for beneficial purposes as far as businesses looking for new employees, but it’s going to go a completely different way,” said Derrick Hyde, a junior majoring in exercise science said. “This [app] will just allow bullying to become a bigger problem.