Everyone from executives to celebrities weighed in this week on an app that allows users to rate other’s professional, romantic or personal attributes — but gives those targeted limited power to remove negative posts.
After The Washington Post dubbed it the “the terrifying ‘Yelp for people’,” the soon-to-be released app Peeple became the latest battleground between advocates of free speech and those concerned about cyberbullying.
Users can assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to anyone they know, and you can’t opt out once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, the Post reported. Negative reviews are removed only if they are reported for violating the terms of the site, according to the Post.
The idea of rating another human sparked some high-profile outrage. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and supermodel Chrissy Teigen took to verified Twitter accounts to criticize the app. And a change.org petition against the app has amassed more than 3,000 signatures.
“Blurring professional, personal and romantic reviews for anyone to see is preposterous, even if it’s comprised of only glowing reviews,” marketing analyst Brian Solis of Altimeter Group wrote in a LinkedIn post. “The lack of context and more so consent is senseless and more so irresponsible.”
The deluge of feedback was so intense it crashed the app’s website, forthepeeple.com, according to the app’s Facebook page. Efforts to contact the company were unsuccessful, although co-founder Julia Cordray was scheduled to be interviewed Friday afternoon on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”
The founders of the app also took to Facebook to share positive responses they said they had received.
“You have a very interesting concept here. … As a business professional, I could see leveraging this to enhance my personal-brand,” said one poster.
The Peeple creators said on its Facebook page they heard the negative feedback “loud and clear,” including concerns about anonymous posters, and people requesting the option to opt out.
The app is far from the first to elicit a firestorm about the line between free speech and hate speech online.
The app Lulu, which allowed women to rate men, garnered a media blitz in 2013. Efforts to crack down on vile content by Reddit’s former CEO Ellen Pao led to widespread calls from users for her to be ousted. Even the professional muckrackers at Gawker Media debated whether they had gone too far earlier this year in revealing a media executive’s personal misadventures.