A new app called Peeple, which allows users to rate other people as they would a restaurant or business — essentially a “Yelp for people” — has gone viral over the last 48 hours.
The unlaunched app is valued at $7.6 million as of Monday, according to the Washington Post.
To create an account, a user needs to be at least 21 years old and have an established Facebook account that’s more than six months old. A review of someone requires the person’s cell phone number and confirmation on whether the user knows them personally, professionally or romantically. Users can then review and rate people on a scale of one to five stars.
After a person’s number is inputted, they will receive a text stating that a user has created a Peeple review of them. If the person receives a negative comment (two stars or less), the comment does not go live immediately. The person reviewed will be notified and have 48 hours to work things out with the reviewer. The Peeple website states:
“If you cannot turn a negative into a positive, the comment will go live and then you can publicly defend yourself.”
However, According to the Science of Us, imputing a fake number in the app would still work:
“Cordray openly admitted that one could simply add a made-up phone number to their contacts and then Peeple would let them create a profile for whomever they associated with that number (she said she didn’t get why anyone would do this).”
To weed out trolls, all reviews must be made under the person’s real name and can’t include profanity, sexism or any mention of private medical conditions. Julie Cordray, co-founder of Peeple, tells NextShark:
“We will be reviewing all negative comments as soon as they hit someone’s inbox for the 48-hour timer. If they violate our very clearly laid out T&C we will notify the user who made the comment to have them adjust their comment, otherwise it will never go live after the 48 hours are up.”
On why she created the app, Cordray explains:
“Gone are the days where we live in a village and you can just go down the street and ask about someone. Imagine living in a new world where you can protect your greatest assets such as your children, house, money and reputation. Also imagine an online village where you can be uplifted and spoken highly about by your network because you know you are the best of the best. Where you can get dream jobs, make more money, network more efficiently, or meet the love of your life. Now more than ever our world needs love and kindness and we believe that this online people rating system with integrity, respect, and accountability will help you shine and make better decisions based on the character of those around you”
Unsurprisingly, the app has been met with a lot of backlash on social media.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) October 1, 2015
@chrissyteigen I’m VERY concerned about the effects of this on middle school and high school kids
— SB (@TheSportsBetch) October 1, 2015
— Becky (@beckythecyclist) October 1, 2015
— R.J. Aguiar (@rj4gui4r) October 1, 2015
Many people feel that Cordray’s app perpetuates privacy issues online and cyberbullying. Cordray defended her app to NextShark by saying:
“With any new concept there is naturally fear. When the people found out that the Earth was round instead of flat and that we revolved around the sun instead of the sun revolving around us naturally people were upset and confused and they pushed back with all that they had. Bringing a new idea to market when people don’t believe that the world is genuinely a good place filled with amazing people there will be pushback and fear. We look forward to proving that the people in this world are genuinely good and positive and they will uplift you on our app with over 80% positivity”
While some may see Cordray’s app as a new forum for public shaming, she is adamant that her aim is to “prove that people are genuinely good.” Cordray says that she and her co-founder Nicole McCullough are pushing on despite some of the negative attention:
“We have been dealing with bullying and harassment which is unfortunate but necessary when you bring a new idea to the market. We are sure that this is how Galileo felt when he proposed that the Earth revolves around the sun instead of the sun revolving around the Earth or when Columbus said that the earth was in fact round and not flat. Everyone was confused and up in arms and wanted to hold on to their old ideals. We are asking people to consider that the world is genuinely filled with good people that know you that want to uplift you and not cause you harm.”
Peeple is set to launch sometime in November, and despite the backlash, the app has been garnering some immense interest. Cordray says:
“We are getting hundreds per minute now and are flying out our team from Canada tomorrow to handle the volume of media and beta Testers […] this is unlike anything I have ever seen. Lloyd Lobo from Traction conference would be proud of two girls in tech who have never launched an app going viral.”
Snopes, a site that researches online hoaxes, suggests that the entire app could simply be a hoax:
“The entire concept appeared to have been conceived as late as 12 August 2015,” says researcher Kim LaCapria. “[It] seems primarily geared to promoting video content involving Peeple co-founders, with virtually no independent verification of the app’s actual existence”.
“Finally, neither McCullogh nor Cordray appeared to have any relevant background in app building. McCullogh maintained a low profile prior to Peeple’s launch, and Cordray billed herself solely as recruiter up to and until August 2015. It’s possible the pair hired a development team through their modest and recent purported venture funding, but an app of the scale they described seemed unlikely to materialize in the 90-day timeframe cited by their YouTube videos.”