Peeple Has Backtracked to the Point of Pointlessness

Peeple vs. the people: how the internet won against the "Yelp for people."

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Oct 26 2015, 5:56pm

Image: Flickr/Ines Njers

Notorious people-rating app Peeple, the so-called "Yelp for people," has cut its most controversial features. There's no more reason to be afraid, but there's also no more reason to care.

Somewhere deep in the cobwebbed recesses of your memory, you may remember skimming some internet articles about Peeple: anyone could review anyone, at any time, even if they weren't on the app. It would usher in a hellish age of pervasive mutual surveillance, according to some. Peeple made noise because of how unbelievably brash and arguably reckless the idea that underpinned it was.

In response to the criticism, the app's unrelentingly optimistic co-founder and spokesperson, Julia Cordray, went dark and then resurfaced on Dr. Phil last week. On the show, she discussed how some of the app's most controversial features, like unwanted ratings and negative reviews, have been removed in response to the hate. Today, she chose an exclusive piece for Re/Code as her platform of choice.

In both cases, her point is the same: Peeple is not the app that it was when it first blew up a few weeks ago.

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According to Cordray, much of what made Peeple so contentious (and, really, a point of conversation at all) has been done away with. The app is now opt-in, which means that you can only be rated if you sign up first. Users will also have the option to review and veto reviews that they "deem unacceptable—for any reason," allowing you to curate a rosy picture of yourself on your profile. Unwanted ratings and negative reviews, two of the most controversial issues with the app, are now gone.

Since Peeple hadn't even launched yet when it became a sensation two weeks ago (it still hasn't), it was really less of an app and more of a press release the internet couldn't stop talking about, and it was almost all bad. The people didn't appear to want Peeple at all. Whether they will want the service that Cordray is now offering remains to be seen.

With so much backtracking and new caveats, Peeple seems destined to fade into relative obscurity like other services that tried to make people-rating a thing—and with similar initial freakouts in the media. If not for Peeple, few people would remember Lulu, an app for women to rate men. Klout didn't exactly turn into the career-deciding metric it was supposed to, either.

For all the bluster, daytime TV appearances, and internet furor, it seems like Motherboard's Jason Koebler was right about Peeple after all—if you were worried about the "Yelp for people" a few weeks ago, all you had to do was wait a metaphorical 15 minutes before it didn't matter anymore.