Founded in 2014 by Nicole McCullough and CEO Julia Cordray, the unreleased app Peeple faced widespread criticism when the company’s outrageous plans for the app were announced in September 2015. For anyone who doesn’t know about it, Peeple is an app that allows you to literally rate people from 1 to 5. Not only can you rate colleagues, exes and friends like restaurants, but you could write an unflattering paragraph about them if you wished, and they wouldn’t be able to do a single thing about it. Controversial? I think so.
“Peeple will enhance your online reputation for access to better quality networks, top job opportunities, and promote more informed decision making about people,” said the company. Co-founders Julia and Nicole describe the app as “positivity app for positive people”. But did the developers really think this one through?
As soon as the potential app hit Twitter and Facebook there was instant uproar. Campaigns against the controversial app launched, one account on Twitter being ‘@WeHatePeeple’ as it condemned the developers’ plans. A petition on Change.org was also launched to stop the release of the app and it reached an outstanding 8,138 supporters. Co-founders Julia and Nicole even received death threats on a daily basis.
Peeple co founders Nicole McCullough and CEO Julia Cordray
Can I say I blame internet-users for being so angry? Not really. With more than 1 in 3 young people having had experienced cyber-bullying online at some point in their lives, it seems that Peeple is just another way for humans to be ridiculed on the Internet. You may be allowed to respond to the negative review of yourself if you are signed up as a user of Peeple, however it doesn’t mean the review would be deleted. Even worse, this is an awful way for interviewers to research your name and discover something your ex wrote about you in an angry, drunken rant.
The good news? The co-founders of Peeple seemed to have back-tracked since the national outrage and the app that was supposed to hit stores in October is now less controversial than previously announced: “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.”
Although the developers have now altered the app’s features, part of me does wonder if Peeple will still be problematic. Nicole and Julia preach that the app promotes positivity, but it crosses my mind if now being able to approve of a review makes things any better. Would receiving the review “she’s not [great] at her job, advised not to hire for marketing” in your inbox, but asked if you’d like to approve of it, make you feel any better about the comment that’s actually been made?
Either way, the company state that the app isn’t evil, and that you’d better be ready because it’s coming soon whether you like it or not.