APPS LIKE YELP are a godsend.
Getting a glimpse into the reality of the service industry can seriously remove some of the guesswork when it comes to solidifying dinner plans. (At least, when we can trust that the reviews are legit and not paid for.) But, in a terrifying turn of events, a new app called Peeple will soon be released that will give users the chance to rate and leave reviews on — you guessed it — people.
Here’s how it works. Names are entered into the system, where users can then assign one to five star ratings on everything related to personality characteristics, professional attributes, or dating habits. Gulp. To create a profile for someone else, all you have to do is insert their name and phone number. They will then of course get a text suggesting that they check out their new review.
The obvious problem here is that people can be major assholes. Sometimes, asshole behavior reflects more on the person doling it out, and this is particularly true online, where the whole face-to-face element of sh*t-talking is removed along with some of the consequences. I have literally seen a Yelp review that docked the restaurant points for having a “waitress with a weird voice.” That’s not how life works ever, and that’s a strangely irrelevant comment when I’m just trying to find out how big their salads are.
Add to that, there is no way to know which users will be telling the truth with an honest (not to mention oversharing) account of a bad meeting, or who’s trying to maliciously ruin someone’s reputation for their own benefit. Just think about how easy it is to get someone’s phone number.
Not to sound defensive or anything, but this just feels like it’s opening the potential for negativity when we categorically don’t need it. What happened to asking your neighbor to turn down their music before giving them a bad neighbor review online? Gross. And it’s not like you can just request that any rude reviews be taken down either, as the app will not mediate unless a negative review violates the terms of service.
Of course the co-founder Julia Cordray says that the app aims to create an “online village of positivity where you can go on and be rated by the people that know you.” So, technically, you could get glowing reviews from your best friends and points from your boss for always showing up on time. But again, what does that even really prove, except that Julia Cordray is living in a fantasy world where everyone is sugar and spice and everything nice?
We’re not buying it, and we’re not downloading it. A Change.org petition has actually been created that will ask Apple to ban the app and others like it. At the time of writing, the petition has 8,114 signatures out of the 10,000 needed to formally address the issue. Time will tell if they app gets stopped in its tracks, or if this is an inevitable step forward in the world of online technology.