Peeple Is Changing Its Features In Response To Tsunami Of Bad Press

Ask anyone, I’ve been saying it for the last few days: Peeple cannot launch with as much bad press as they’ve been getting. Who do you know who’s just dying to have this app launch, other than your most dedicated troll-y friends? I’m going to bet no one, because no one wants to be forcibly reviewed – especially negatively – and not be able to do anything about it.

And I was half-right – Peeple can’t launch, at least not as it is. According to a LinkedIn post from the app’s co-founder, Julia Cordray, the developers are making gigantic changes to the app’s features in response to what we’ll generously call “negative consumer feedback.” Cordray says that over the last few days, she’s gotten viciously harassed and received death threats, and that a deluge of negative comments have been made about her that in a tremendous twist of irony she cannot remove from the internet. Ergo, she says, she has seen the error of Peeple’s ways, and the app has to change:

“Peeple is focused on the positive and ONLY THE POSITIVE as a 100% OPT-IN system. You will NOT be on our platform without your explicit permission. There is no 48 hour waiting period to remove negative comments. 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.”

She goes on: “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. Be part of the positive revolution. Join Peeple today.” I’m still not personally planning on it, thanks, not least of all because this is a pretty swift change of tune. Previously, this is what Cordray had to say about how Peeple’s original 48-hour negative review waiting period was going to work, from a cached version of the site’s FAQ:

“When another user makes a negative comment about you (2 stars or less) the comment does not go live right away. It goes into your inbox on the app, you will be notified, and now you have 48 hours timer to work it out with the user. If you cannot turn a negative into a positive the comment will go live and then you can publicly defend yourself.

That’s right, what Julia Cordray has believed throughout the process of making this app – right up until she personally started getting harassed – was that if someone says something harassing, inaccurate, or untrue about you, the onus should be on you to clear things up. The way things were originally going to go, it was one person’s word against the other’s, and whoever happened to be voluntarily a member of Peeple had the sharp advantage. That’s on top of Cordray’s repeated comments about how you can review cars and businesses – that’s “inanimate objects” and “legal entities” – so why not human beings, since duh human beings are the same thing as objects and airing your personal business about them in public is totally harmless and productive, right?

What I’m getting at, here, is that from everything that Julia Cordray has said in public, I don’t believe that she’s leading the positivity revolution. I doubt her sense of empathy. First, it took until she was harassed for her to comprehend anyone else’s experiences with harassment – even when people started voicing their concerns about how easy Peeple would make it to bully someone, she kept harping on the app’s anti-bullying policies and claiming that if you have been negatively reviewed, it’s probably your fault. Second, to compare people to objects is unempathetic in a basic way. And third, she has seemed so totally tunnel-visioned in the process of developing and promoting Peeple, so totally focused on her own experience of the world (you can witness her self-aggrandizing refusal to believe that anyone would ever say anything bad about her in this Motherboard interview), that I couldn’t possibly have faith in Cordray’s sudden change of vision.

If I want to say nice things about people, I’ll endorse them on LinkedIn. Otherwise, maybe I’ll just get to know them the old fashioned way – by actually interacting with them.

[LinkedIn]
[For The Peeple]
[Washington Post]
[Motherboard]

Image via Peeple

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