Peeple, The Yelp For People, Is A Very Bad Idea

We live in a world where, with a few taps on a screen, you can rate just about anything, from your Uber driver to your grocery store to the shit you just took, floating in the toilet. This is fine. This is great. Consumer reviews can be enormously helpful. Who wouldn’t want to know that the restaurant you’re about to go to gave three people in a row terrible food poisoning, or that the cast iron pan you’re about to buy on Amazon is actually a piece of shit. This is useful information. But what if you applied the same methodology to reviewing people?

Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough, two enterprising, misguided women from San Francisco, realized that, hey, it might be an awesome idea to let people rate other people that they know, similar to the way they’d give a taqueria that didn’t have guacamole two stars on Yelp. They created the an app called Peeple, which is set to launch sometime this year and is going to be a real nightmare.

According to the website, Peeople allows you to rate people based on the three categories that just about everyone fits into: personal, professional and dating. Users will be able to rate just about everyone in their life after signing up with their Facebook account, and proving via PIN and phone number that they’re a real, live person. Once you’re in the Peeple system, you can start rating anyone and everyone you know, but be careful — unless you violate the terms of service, once you’re in, you can’t get out, and that means dealing with people rating YOU in return. Negative reviews won’t go live for 48 hours, but you will be made aware of them, giving you the chance to “work it out” with the person who wrote the review. Once those 48 hours are up, though, there goes the two paragraph review your drunk cousin wrote about you for all the world to see. At that point, you can feel free to “publicly defend yourself by commenting,” though.

Rating people is an insane prospect, one that seems designed to foster an epidemic of low self-esteem, crowd-sourced data-driven suicides and encourage a frightening anomie amongst groups of people that were previously content and seemingly cool with each other. Do you really need to know if your boyfriend’s best friend thinks that you’re a shitty person with no professional prospects? How will that enhance your life in any way? Crowd-sourcing is not a magic bullet. It works well in some applications, but the very nature of it is extremist. When you write a Yelp review about a restaurant, you do it because the restaurant was terrible and you want to warn the masses. Why, oh why, would you want share that same sentiment about human beings that you know and have to look in the face?

Cordray’s intentions, she insists, are pure. As she told the Washington Post, “As two empathetic, female entrepreneurs in the tech space, we want to spread love and positivity…We want to operate with thoughtfulness.”

There’s nothing thoughtful, really, about producing an app that’s a terrible mashup of Tinder and LinkedIn, but words mean different things to different people. The worst thing about this idea is that once Peeple is up and running — which it certainly will be, I’m sure of it — every private interaction you have will have the potential to become public. That flop of a job interview or that coffee date with your friend with whom things have always been weird could all be up for public scrutiny. Would it make you feel any better to confirm that your coworker Lisa actually does hate you? Not to mention the fact that the app could very easily be used by people who are out to harass and defame others.

The Peeple Facebook page is currently full of a bunch of people freaking out about the imminent launch of this no good, very bad fever dream of an idea. There’s a rebuttal on their website — down right now! — that appeals, earnestly, to the modesty that lives within everyone:

Innovators are often put down because people are scared and they don’t understand. We are bold innovators and sending big waves into motion and we will not apologize for that because we love you enough to give you this gift. We know you are amazing, special, and unique individuals and most likely would never shout that from the rooftops. The people who know you will though… You deserve better and to have more abundance, joy, and real authentic connections. You deserve to make better decisions with more information to protect your children and your biggest assets. You have worked so hard to get the reputation you have among the people that know you.

Yes, we’re scared, but we definitely understand. We know that we’re amazing, special and wonderful, but we don’t necessarily need to hear other people’s opinions about whether or not that’s true, thanks!

Ready yourselves. Peeple will probably launch sometime in mid-November.

[SFist]