These Women Claim They've Made An App That Lets You Rate Other People And The Internet Is Furious
Well, it does sound pretty terrifying.
According to the Washington Post, the app, which will "probably" launch in late November, will allow you to review and "give one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door".
The article went on to describe how users will have to affirm that they know people in one of three categories: "personal, professional or romantic." In order to add someone to the database who hasn't previously been reviewed, one simply needs the person's cell phone number.
The paper added: "You can't opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it's there unless you violate the site's terms of service. And you can't delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose."
The app was invented by Julia Cordray, a Canadian who owns two marketing companies, along with her co-founder, Nicole McCullough, from California.
The website says, "Users will require a Facebook account to access the application, to verify and validate the minimum age requirement [of 21]."
Cordray told the Washington Post that the app had been been valued at $7.6 million after fundraising efforts across Silicon Valley.
The social media reaction has been overwhelmingly negative.
A campaign group was swiftly set up...
...along with a fake social media profile.
A few hours ago, the app's founders announced some concessions had been made.
However, this didn't seem to placate people.
Peeple's founders also reacted angrily when repeatedly asked about government funding they reportedly received.
And claimed to have been misrepresented by one columnist, in a lengthy Facebook post.
Cordray told the Guardian: "We will be reviewing all negative reviews posted before they can go live and will have control over them. We will also be reviewing positive reviews to unclaimed profiles to ensure compliance [to the terms and conditions]." She also told the paper that the ability for users to remove themselves from the app's database was "under consideration".
However, as The Register has pointed out, "there's no link to privacy policies or terms and service, as yet, even though these are cited in the FAQ."
Others have raised questions about the app's practicality – not least because of the likelihood of defamatory comments being made.
Indeed, some commenters have suggested the whole thing is so unworkable it might even be an elaborate prank.
In an email to BuzzFeed News, Cordray said that privacy policies would be drawn up, "As soon as we have them ready and completed by our legal teams; most likely on the launch day of our apps in November."
When asked how the app could match people to their phone numbers, she referred BuzzFeed to Peeple's FAQ on its website.
On the question of multiple accounts, she said: "When a user claims their profile they can see any other profiles that they did not claim. All unclaimed profiles will only have positive comments go live. Our app will give president [sic] to the phone number of the user who logged in and claimed their profile."
And on the subject of EU data protection law, she said: "We will not be operating in Europe until we are ready to. We understand that every country has their own laws and we will never breach any laws in the countries in which we operate. If we need to change the app features to be in line with the laws of the countries we choose to operate in then we will do that."
A report by Snopes has cast further doubts on the likelihood of the app being developed.
It states that "the entire concept appeared to have been conceived as late as 12 August 2015." The report points out the app's Twitter account "seemed primarily geared to promoting video content involving Peeple co-founders Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough, with virtually no independent verification of the app’s actual existence amid a regular stream of YouTube videos."
And it goes on to note: "A tidbit buried in the tail end of the Washington Post article similarly hinted at the entire process being oriented more to Cordray’s “publishing [of] a reality Web series about the app’s process.”
It also points out that neither women has any obvious background in app development, and that "Any and all 'work' on the app was primarily documented via YouTube video before September 2015".