The social reputation app Peeple launched yesterday. Commonly described as Yelp for people, it allows you to leave recommendations of people you know. The purpose of the app is to help you find people you can trust professionally or personally. If you need a babysitter, for example, you can look for someone in the area with good recommendations so you know they can be trusted. The site also has other applications, including online dating. However you must deliberately change the profile settings in order to even activate the dating aspect, so those who are not interested can still use the app for other purposes without being roped into dating.
Even before the app was launched, it was the source of controversy. Journalists published editorials about how this app could be used to bully people online. Many concerned citizens decided to make their point about the evils of online bullying by directing a high volume of angry social media comments and emails at the developers, some of which included actual death threats. After all, nothing says bullying is wrong like threatening to end someone’s life because they are working on an app you don’t like. In response to the massive criticism directed at the app, the developers have made some changes to make it less open to abuse.
For starters, you can only leave recommendations for people who have an account with the app. Although you can submit a recommendation for someone who hasn’t joined yet, you will be asked to invite them to join, and the recommendation will not go live on the site until and unless they join. Anyone seriously concerned about this app being used for bullying can simply not use it. If you start using the app and then change your mind, you can always delete your account, and all information about you will be taken off the site.
It should be noted that no recommendation will go live on the site without the approval of the person being reviewed. While this makes it possible for someone to remove any negative recommendations at all, even ones with legitimate criticism, the benefit they are aiming for is the ability of users to protect themselves from abuse. It will even be possible for someone to block specific people and prevent them from writing recommendations about you or sending you messages in the app.
However, a paid feature which is still in development is the Truth License. With the Truth License it will be possible to see all recommendations that have been made about a person, even ones the individual has chosen to remove from public view. This feature undercuts the claim that people can fight bullying by removing recommendations which are abusive. This arguably adds importance to the removed recommendations by making them a premium feature that requires payment to be seen, putting them at a different level than other recommendations.
Another aspect of the site is that it is not anonymous. Your Peeple account must be linked to your Facebook account and you will be required to use your real name, just as on Facebook. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can’t use this app. Additionally you will also need to give your mobile phone number to create an account. The phone number and Facebook account are referred to as double authentication, which is used to verify a person’s unique identity. The reasoning behind this decision is that a recommendation will have more weight if you have to stake your reputation on it, rather than posting anonymously.
The app is currently available for iOS and can be downloaded from the App Store. According to the app’s FAQ, there is also an Android version in the works, to be released some time in 2016. In order to use the app you must be 21, although it’s a bit strange they chose that age instead of 18.
Do you think this app will have any useful application? Leave your comments below.