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This “Yelp for people” app wants you to review other human beings. What could go wrong?

Reuters/Benoit Tessier
“Meh, I’ll give him 2/5.”
  • Aamna Mohdin
By Aamna Mohdin

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

After a dinner date, instead of rating the restaurant, why not review your companion?

In a world where you can rate your restaurant, professors, and workplace, a new app called Peeple—a “Yelp for people” that lets users review or give one-to-five-star ratings to anyone they know—should feel right at home. The app doesn’t even exist yet—it isn’t even in beta—but the mere idea has caused outrage.

Peeple says it’s “revolutionizing the way we’re seen in the world through our relationships” and plans to launch in November.

The problem for many people is that it doesn’t matter whether you join the app or not, anyone who has your phone number can add your name. Once they do, you won’t be able to remove yourself. Users have to be over 21 to join the app, have a Facebook account that is at least six months old, and be willing to review someone under their real name. Positive reviews go up immediately, while negative ones are held for 48 hours to give enough time for disputes. Critics argue that simply having someone’s phone number is by no means consent or even a good verification system.

The app’s concept isn’t entirely new; the Lulu dating app allowed women to rate the men they know. Just like Peeple, those added to Lulu had no choice in the matter. Eventually, after widespread criticism, Lulu backed down and introduced an opt-in feature so only men who join can be rated.

Some have also pointed out the significant safety concerns with an app like this. People’s sexuality can be revealed, and the app could also endanger victims of domestic violence.

Peeple said it will respond to people’s concerns, but insists the app will be a force for good. Peeple CEO Julia Cordray tells Quartz they’ve received hundreds of emails from people supportive of the app, many of whom have also signed up as beta testers.

“What you see on our Facebook page and Twitter are people who are scared and may have misunderstood our concept of a positivity app for positive people,” she says.

The company said it will meet later today (Oct. 1) to discuss whether to add in a feature to allow people to remove themselves from the app. Cordray says everyone at Peeple is “open to improving the app and changing any features necessary to make a world class user experience.”

Cordray—who refused to provide any screenshots of the app or the names of its financial backers—says that the company has raised $500,000 from private investors in Calgary and the US, “with people calling and emailing daily to invest.”

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