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A 'Yelp'-Style App for Rating People Is Coming, and It's Absolutely Terrifying

Jason Howie / CC BY 2.0

Imagine every interaction you’ve ever had is suddenly open to public scrutiny. This rather terrifying prospect is set to become a reality, when a new app — “Peeple” — launches in November. The app will allow users to rate everyone they know on a scale of one to five stars.

From The Washington Post:

You can already rate restaurants, hotels, movies, college classes, government agencies and bowel movements online.

So the most surprising thing about Peeple — basically Yelp, but for humans — may be the fact that no one has yet had the gall to launch something like it.

When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

“People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions,” said Julia Cordray, one of the app’s founders. “Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?”

This is, in a nutshell, Cordray’s pitch for the app — the one she has been making to development companies, private shareholders, and Silicon Valley venture capitalists. (As of Monday, the company’s shares put its value at $7.6 million.)

A bubbly, no-holds-barred “trendy lady” with a marketing degree and two recruiting companies, Cordray sees no reason you wouldn’t want to “showcase your character” online. Co-founder Nicole McCullough comes at the app from a different angle: As a mother of two in an era when people don’t always know their neighbors, she wanted something to help her decide whom to trust with her kids.

Given the importance of those kinds of decisions, Peeple’s “integrity features” are fairly rigorous — as Cordray will reassure you, in the most vehement terms, if you raise any concerns about shaming or bullying on the service. To review someone, you must be 21 and have an established Facebook account, and you must make reviews under your real name.

You must also affirm that you “know” the person in one of three categories: personal, professional or romantic. To add someone to the database who has not been reviewed before, you must have that person’s phone number. (The app was originally supposed to scrape names automatically from Facebook, but the site’s API wouldn’t allow it — to Cordray’s visible annoyance.)

Positive ratings post immediately; negative ratings are queued in a private inbox for 48 hours in case of disputes. If you haven’t registered for the site, and thus can’t contest those negative ratings, your profile only shows positive reviews.

On top of that, Peeple has outlawed a laundry list of bad behaviors, including profanity, sexism and mention of private health conditions.

“As two empathetic, female entrepreneurs in the tech space, we want to spread love and positivity,” Cordray stressed. “We want to operate with thoughtfulness.”

Unfortunately for the millions of people who could soon find themselves the unwilling subjects — make that objects — of Cordray’s app, her thoughts do not appear to have shed light on certain very critical issues, such as consent and bias and accuracy and the fundamental wrongness of assigning a number value to a person.

Read more here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

Roisin Davis
Róisín Davis is a literary agent, writer, and editor based in New…
Roisin Davis

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