Opt out of empathy with the new Peeple app

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This morning I glanced at my feed reader and saw a mention of an upcoming app Peeple, “like Yelp for people.” This made me chuckle because I was certain that this was some sort of parody app, similar to Emojli, allowing us to poke fun at ourselves while making a non-subtle statement on how social media objectifies experiences.

No. Peeple is real. And it’s coming to iOS devices next month.

(Its tagline, “Character Is Destiny,” is more Orwellian than anything I could have dreamed.)

I don’t even know where to start with this. Anyone can rate you, and include personally identifying information about you as well. Biased reviews (from someone with an axe to grind) or inaccurate ones (from someone mistaking you for someone else) cannot be deleted. This from their website, in response to “How do I dispute a review of me?”

When another user makes a negative comment about you (2 stars or less) the comment does not go live right away. It goes into your inbox on the app, you will be notified, and now you have 48 hours timer to work it out with the user. If you cannot turn a negative into a positive the comment will go live and then you can publicly defend yourself.

If I can’t convince someone to change their mind — someone who thinks it is socially appropriate to publicly shame me via a negative rating on an app — I can publicly defend myself.

There is no way to opt out from being rated.

No one involved with the creation or funding of this app has ever been harassed, apparently. Bully for them. For those of us who have, this app is a horrifying glimpse into what happens when people prioritise data over lives.

To the founders and funders of Peeple: go out into the world and have an interaction with a person. Think critically about it. Consider that the person might have been having a rotten day, or a great day, or a normal day. Likely their experience of the same interaction will not match your own. This is totally normal because we are all individuals. Feel something called empathy that allows you to try to put yourself in another’s position. And then write that down in a thing called a notebook. If you really need a rating system, buy some gold stickers and stick them in your notebook.

Whatever you do, stop trying to capitalise on the objectification of your fellow human beings. That is, if being human is still important to you. After reading about your app, I have no evidence that it is.

Photo credit: Micolo J.

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10 thoughts on “Opt out of empathy with the new Peeple app

  1. Rob

    There’s some good news, although it’s got heavy qualifiers on it. I suspect they’re not going to be able to qualify as common carriers, which mean they’ll lose important protections against libel and invasion of privacy lawsuits.

    This is an idea that’s going to survive only until either (a) a massive class-action lawsuit gets delivered to their door, or (b) the investors realize (a) is inevitable.

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  2. Unbelievable, total and utter madness. It certainly must have been a group of men inventing this ridiculous app. Most women know what it is like to be harassed. do not these peeple realise that cyberbullying even leads to suicides? or dont they care? hope they fail miserably and lose lots and lots and lots of money.

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