For the Peeple, By The Peeple--but just Positive Peeple. Maybe.
Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough wanted to make sure the world of the Internet was filled with positivity. Or maybe they wanted to make sure people in the digital age could make informed decisions on who to hire or who to trust their kids with. Right now, the entire concept of their app--"Peeple"--is completely uncertain. What is clear is neither understands a fundamental concept of the Internet: people armed with little else but a keyboard and an opinion spewing garbage online about anyone and anything.
On September 30, the Washington Post published an article about Cordray and McCullough's new app named "Peeple," which was dubbed the "Yelp for People."
Truly scary stuff indeed. According to the Post, you are rated on a one to five star system for every aspect of your life from your dating ability to the way you conduct your professional business. It doesn't take much to get on the site as well--if someone has your cell phone number, they can post a "review" of you on Peeple.
Of course, there's "built in protections" to the service. You must "know" someone in one of three categories: personal, professional or romantic. You must be at least 21 to put a review on a site and have a Facebook account. You also have to use your real name to post a review of someone.
Apparently Cordray and McCullough have never heard of adults or children creating fake Facebook profiles, lying about ages, or even the concept of "catfishing."
What happens if someone posts a negative review? There's a dispute resolution mechanism built into Peeple for those situations:
There's absolutely no way this could go wrong, if one views the world through the same rose colored glasses as Cordray. Enter the people of the Internet, who took umbrage with this real-life version of the "Mean Girls' Burn Book" and decided to take action. Sadly, some of the action was just as extreme as one would expect.
As of this writing, all social media accounts for Peeple have been pulled, and the website is currently inaccessible with a heavy Cloudflare firewall. I'd begin to think there's at least been one DDoS attack against their website, given the extreme nature of such actions. Frankly, one would think an individual who started a project like this might have used a bit of common sense before attempting to raise money on such a project. I'd also think people might exercise a little bit more common sense before investing money on something like Peeple, but venture capitalists have pretty much ruined that notion for me.
The direction of the site has now changed, according to Cordray, who published a piece on LinkedIn's Pulse called "I Became a Trending Topic For The Wrong Reasons. Here's Why We Need Peeple, the Positivity App I'm Building." In it, after the usual hand-wringing reserved for public gaffes, and lamentations about the darker corners of the Internet, Cordray announces the new direction of her platform:
A remarkable attempt at a saving throw indeed, and a laudable one at that. The lingering question, though, is whether this is a new direction or the "intended" direction of Peeple. In recent days, Cordray has stated this "positivity platform" was the intent all along, and that the "Yelp for People" was a "mistake." However, the Washington Post piece seems to suggest otherwise, especially from comments by the app inventors themselves:
Ms. Cordray wants to showcase "character" online, and I'm sure she's a wonderful person bereft of a single negative quality by which others could see her. As she's learned very quickly, though, the Internet will find a way to go to the most negative of places, good intentions be damned.
Ken White explains for us all how this entire situation will work if the app continues forward:
That quote explains why I think the retreat towards the power of positive is the key factor here. Cordray and McCullough have learned the only way their platform will achieve a measure of the success they want absent backlash is to make everything "all about the positive." If the original pitch to investors was giving people the ability to review all aspects of one's life, though, then that's going to upset the investors who put their money into this project for that reason alone.
They're going to need spokespersons to get past this.
Allow me to offer a suggestion to Cordray and McCullough.
Who better to spread the POWER OF POSITIVITY than CLAP NATION itself?