Power to The Peeple

Every night restaurants open their doors to hungry patrons who have chosen their establishment because it received an overall positive review on Yelp. To date, there are over 90 million Yelp reviews posted on the platform. Even in 2016, word of mouth remains the most effective marketing force. Because we live in a recommendation world, we place trust in sites such as Angie’s List and RateMyProfessor. What happens, however, when the product people are rating is you?

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 12.58.09 PMPeeple

          On September 30th, 2015 co-founders McCullough and Cordray announced Peeple: A new app allowing users to rate the people they know and interact with on a daily basis. Ultimately, every last one of us would be reviewed personally, professionally and even romantically. The co-founders, who refer to themselves as “empathetic female entrepreneurs” who “want to spread love and positivity” had little idea of the backlash they were about to receive. (Sollosi, 2015)

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Twitter

            Self marketing is not a new concept for many of us. We post, like, and make connections on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn everyday. Something about Peeple, however, is different and not in a good way. According to Entertainment Weekly, any Peeple user can produce a profile centered around you or me and there is nothing we can do about it. Without your consent, every girlfriend you ever cheated on is ready to write a scathing review as if you were a restaurant that messed up their order. (Sollosi, 2015)

After the app experienced a social media firestorm, it disappeared from public thought until the co-founders recently resurfaced with a new game plan. The potential for negative reviews has been reigned in and a user with a profile has the opportunity to review and delete negative comments before they are publically posted. If you do not have a profile someone may still create one for you, but only positive reviews will be published. I question if this policy change even makes a difference to the initial problem of personal invasion. (Shandrow, 2015)

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Twitter

          Yes, this app does have its inherent problems, but are these advancements in app development inevitable? We rate and review many aspects of our lives, so wouldn’t the next logical step be each other? I would prefer those I’ve worked for, worked with, and broken up with not rate me like I am an Airbnb or an Uber ride on a five-star scale. From a marketing communication standpoint, transparency is important for success. How much is transparency worth if it jeopardizes your professional future? While the co-founders call Peeple a “safe place”, I question where ethics come into play. (Peeple, 2016)

References

Dewey, C. (2015, September 30). Everyone you know will be able to rate you on the
terrifying ‘Yelp for people’ – whether you want them to or not. Retrieved from                       https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/09/30/everyone-               you-know-will-be-able-to-rate-you-on-the-terrifying-yelp-for-people-whether-you-             want-them- to-or-not/

Kulwin, N. (2015, October, 26). The People Behind Peeple, the Internet’s Most Hated App,
Aren’t Going Away. Retrieved from http://recode.net/2015/10/26/the-people-                      behind-peeple-the-internets-most-hated-app-arent-going-away/

Peeple: Character is Destiny. Retrieved from http://forthepeeple.com/

Shandrow, K. (2015, November 6). ‘Yelp For People’ Co-Founder: Your Hate Only Fuels              My Resolve To Launch Peeple. Retrieved from                                                                                   http://entrepreneur.com/article/252542

Sollosi, M. (2015, September 30). ‘Yelp for people’ app will let you ‘rate’ real-life human
beings. Retrieved from http://www.ew.com/article/2015/09/30/peeple-app

White, A. (2015, October 1). These Women Claim They’ve Made An App That Lets You                  Rate Other People And The Internet Is Furious. Retrieved from                                                   http://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/were-just-ordinary-peeeeeple-we-dont-know-            which-way-to-go?utm_term=.haGzkMn14A#.haGzkMn14A

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5 Responses to Power to The Peeple

  1. Camille says:

    Thank you for posting this article, I had never heard of Peeple, but after reading about the premise, I was shocked to hear it exists. I agree with your argument that this app seems at the least an invasion of privacy and a clarion call for bullying. And as you illustrated by comparing the app to Yelp, such rating systems are inherently dishonest as there is no way to verify such ratings. I’d be surprised that the founders were unable to see the potential down-sides, but oddly this isn’t a new idea. A similar app was proposed back in 2010 called Unvarnished (Rusli, 2010a). Apparently it was intended to serve as a ‘yelp for Linkedin,’ and it too failed (Stillman, 2010), but not before it was later reintroduced as Honestly.com (Rusli, 2010b). On top of these, another app called Awesomize.me was also introduced with a similar premise (Gruber, 2011). How does such a bad idea get picked up so often? It seems like there are plenty more if you dig long enough… I don’t get it.
    What does everyone else think?

    Gruber, F. (2011, January 24). Awesomize.me: Rate People, Companies, Products and Services. Tech Co. Retrieved from http://tech.co/awesomize-me-rate-people-companies-products-and-services-2011-01

    Rusli, E. (2010, March 30). Unvarnished: A Clean, Well-Lighted Place For Defamation. TechCrunch. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/30/unvarnished-a-clean-well-lighted-place-for-defamation/

    Rusli, E. (2010, October 19). Unvarnished Becomes Honestly.com, Raises $1.2 Million And Opens The Floodgates. TechCrunch. Retrieved from: http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/19/unvarnished-honestly-kazanjy-funding/

    Stillman, J. (2010 April 7) Unvarnished: Anonymity Makes People Mean, Not Honest. CBS News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/unvarnished-anonymity-makes-people-mean-not-honest/

  2. Linda says:

    Whoa! Thanks for telling us about this interesting app – I hadn’t heard about it and am surprised that there wasn’t MORE of a backlash. I just took a peek at their website and the first words struck me: “Two best friends built an app in 90 days.” Hah!
    Clearly, a good app cannot be rushed. The team definitely would have benefited from conducting the appropriate consumer research including beta testing, focus groups, etc. I would imagine that testing the idea of the app with a group of prospective users would have brought up some major red flags – issues that could have been addressed before such a public flop.
    It is my understanding that any app start up requires a significant amount of capital funding. I would imagine that the investors were NOT happy when the concept of the app shifted suddenly to address the negative publicity.

  3. Anat says:

    I hadn’t heard about this either! Wow, talk about recipe for disaster! That one tweeter had it right, this app would be a breeding ground for not only bullying but also slander and defamation of character.
    I remember hearing about http://www.dontdatehimgirl.com for the first time years ago, which started out as a man bashing date rating website. It has since changed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DontDateHimGirl.com) with lots of controversy over the years to become a support group for “great advice and learning how to heal” if you’ve been cheated on or traumatized by an ex. There’s also http://www.ratemyprofessor.com which is used quite a bit too and we can’t forget the infamous http://www.hotornot.com which rates people’s appearances.
    One thing I’ve learned is that there’s always 3 sides to every story – his side, her side and the truth. Posting an opinion about a person is no longer an opinion, it’s a judgement and often based on a one-sided observation that is often misinterpreted. Kinda sad that we feel the need to rate people!

  4. Damali says:

    This is humiliating for anyone who has a profile created in their name. The ideas that are pitched for app ideas sometimes are so ridiculous. Specifically in the dating apps. I was unaware of this app nor the controversy on social media. In response to Linda’s comment ahead, clearly an app needs more fundamental creative brainstorming and framework. Ideas should be innovative and not everyone has the creative capability to think up an idea for an app.

    Any app that promotes negative publicity lessens in quality, it makes me wonder who the targeted audience was. Obviously the goal was to air past boyfriends and girlfriends dirty laundry in purpose to ????. This reminds me of cyber bullying. People have to be aware of the repercussions of what is viewed on the internet. You never know really how comments or pictures posted online can effect the person viewed in the posts or comments.

  5. Rhonda says:

    This is a very dangerous site and I understand why it was created but it could hurt a number of people personally and professionally. I believe in freedom of speech but this is just to much. I am glad the original site is down and maybe in time new app and site will go away as well.