Student Thoughts: We do not need a ‘Yelp for humans’

Michelle Marchante/Staff Writer

Social media is a double-edged sword.

It’s a great tool for communicating with others, but if used in the wrong way, can easily damage someone’s reputation – so where should we draw the line?

When it begins to affect someone’s personal life. When it’s no longer just celebrities and other public figures being judged online by complete strangers but regular, everyday people being scrutinized.

An example of this would be Peeple, a brand new app that plans to be released sometime in November.

The app, often referred to as the “Yelp for humans,” will allow people to give reviews and 1-to-5 star ratings to everyone they have ever met: classmates, co-workers, friends and exes can all be reviewed.

The purpose of the app is to allow one’s “true character” to be showcased online for the entire world to see.

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

The difference between Peeple and other social media sites is that when someone is judged based on their latest photo or status on social media, they’re judged on something that they have consented to post.

In contrast, the Peeple app does not need consent to allow people to post reviews or ratings about you and you’re completely powerless when it comes to taking it down.

Once a name is in the app’s system, it can’t be deleted unless the user’s page violates Peeple’s terms of service.

This app has the potential to defame and bully someone but Cordray promises that the app’s “integrity features” will ensure that no such thing will occur.

These features require you to be at least 21, have an established Facebook account and use your real name when creating reviews.

You must also affirm that you “know” the person professionally, personally or romantically.  

The most secure integrity feature Peeple has is that the user is required to have the person’s cell phone number in order to create a page for them. While this is slightly more difficult to do, it’s not completely impossible to obtain if they don’t already have it. Plus, the cell phone number requirement is only needed for the initial creation of the page and won’t ensure the integrity of the reviews.

Another notable feature is that only positive reviews will be placed on the page immediately while negative reviews will initially be placed in a private inbox queue for forty-eight hours to allow the person that is being reviewed to claim and debunk the fallacy.

If the person is not a member of the service itself, the negative reviews will never be posted on their page, contradicting the goal of the app.

Since its announcement, the app has been receiving a steady amount of backlash, causing its founders to delete their website, Twitter and Facebook account. They also set their Instagram to private and deleted all but one Youtube video, leading many to believe that the app is a hoax.

On her LinkedIn, Cordray stated that the app was not a hoax and that it would be released in November.

Surprisingly, the continuous negative feedback turned out to have a positive result, as it led to Cordray admitting on Thursday, Oct. 8 that the app’s original policies were “ill conceived.”

She then went on to say that the app will now require the person’s permission to create a page, they will be able to reject any review before it gets published and they’ll be able to deactivate their account at any time.

The app seems to have taken a turn for the better, but the fact that allowing people to rate a person subjectively like a restaurant, seemed like a good idea to begin with says a lot about our society.

We already have problems with people being objectified and sexualized and rating people like this will only make make the problem worse.

In a world where our privacy is already lacking and whatever we say or do may end up on the Internet, this app is a sign that if we’re not careful, we may reach a point where our actions will not only be watched and judged everyday, but that they’ll be publicized and recorded eternally on the web for the world to see.  

[Image from Flickr, resized]

About the Author

Michelle Marchante
Michelle Marchante is the 2018-2019 Editor-in-Chief of PantherNOW. Majoring in broadcast journalism, she lives and breathes web, print, radio and TV news 24/7. You can connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM

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