There are two reasons why social media exists: to spread information, and more importantly, to spread misinformation.
Peeple, the self described “Yelp for people”, looks set to be amazing with the second one.
I can’t be more blunt than the app designers were themselves: using their app, you can “rate” people from 1-5 based on three criteria: personal, professional and dating. The app claims that it is making “character” a new form of currency by allowing acquaintances to rate each other. Like Yelp, people can then look up others and see how the world sees them. A “1” in professional? Well, obviously the person must be a crook. A “5” in dating? They must be the real deal.
I can’t fathom what the creators were thinking when they developed their app, but certainly they must have been living in a vacuum. I mean, obviously they had no concept of cyber bullying, since, you know, you can rate anyone you know. Especially your enemies. (Or even better, someone you pretend to know.)
Well, if that was the only problem, it’d be just like any other social media site. However, Peeple takes it further. Using it, you can stalk people. I mean, look at the app description.
[Peeple has a] “Nearby Feature” to look up anyone within a 10 mile radius —Peeple’s app description
That sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, now I can have every random creep breathing down my neck. But it gets worse.
There’s always the question of how much you can understand about a stranger on the Internet by looking at the profile. I mean, you could probably get some things out of their posts and other people’s posts about them, but you wouldn’t get very far. At all.
With Peeple, it seems that they’ve taken it to a whole new level of shallow. Which doesn’t really make sense if you’re an AirBnB host trying to see whether you should conduct business with this random guy off the Internet. I mean, here’s another quote from the Peeple Team, in reference to America’s presidential election this year.
It’s too bad we didn’t have TRUMP on our app. It may have helped prevent this outcome…we are deeply saddened that the American people would choose a racist and ignorant fool over a woman. #trumptears #Peepleapp —Peeple’s Facebook page
To be clear: I have no love for either candidate. But this quote tells us two things: firstly, that the app’s creators believe in characterising people in under 25 letters, and secondly, that they’re incredibly arrogant.
How? Well, look at the descriptions of Trump and Clinton. One is a “racist and ignorant fool”, and the other is a “woman”. Were I either candidate, I would be insulted. I mean, for Trump, he certainly stood for a little more than just racism and ignorance. 1 in 2 voters voted for him. And for Clinton? Well, it’d be kind of insulting, after 30 years of civil service, to be characterised by what she was born as rather than what she did.
I have a feeling that the Peeple app, being, after all, made by the same people who made the above statement, is going to create the exact same result for everyone, whereby all our complexities will be boiled down to a rating and a tweet. And to be boiled down to that would be insulting. We humans are far more complex than that.
But that’s not the only tiff I have with the app. The second, as I said, is its incredible arrogance. I mean, they believe that their app could’ve swung the election? Sure, maybe Facebook can claim that honour, but honestly, they’re a little naïve to think that people would believe an app that is literally based of letting strangers assign a number to you to estimate your value.
And let’s be clear with this: none of us can definitively set another person’s worth, not even if 10,000 of us do it. We have a word for that nowadays: slavery.
Before you argue against that, let’s think: the point of Peeple is to make “character” the new currency. And if other people are constantly evaluating your “character points” then isn’t it basically evaluating one’s monetary value? And yes, if you consider whether to trust/date/befriend that person based off that number, it is akin to deciding whether to buy a slave based on their price, health, and age.
I really have nothing else to say about this app, except gawp at it with morbid fascination at how incredibly ridiculous it is, but I think I’ve made my point here.