Just two years after The New Yorker ran a humor piece about the amusing (if terrifying) prospect of a Yelp-style review site for human beings, that exact thing has come to pass. You will soon be able to review people and be reviewed in return, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
According to The Washington Post, it’s aptly titled “Peeple” and it was founded by a “trendy lady” named Julia Cordray and her gal pal Nicole McCullough. Ladies and gentlemen, the faces of the dystopian surveillance state:
You will be able to review people you know under three different categories: personal, professional or romantic. (I guess “sexual” seemed too frank for their sensibilities.) To add a previously un-reviewed person to the database, you will need to know their phone number, which seems like rather a low bar for “knowing” someone. You will not be able to opt out of being reviewed. “People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions,” Cordray told The Washington Post, presumably with an Orwellian glint in her eye. “Why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?”
Cordray is quick to dismiss concerns about bullying, abuse, and privacy, saying that you will be able to “dispute” negative or inaccurate reviews and that if you haven’t registered yourself for the site (and hence can’t contest negative reviews) only positive reviews will post. “As two empathetic, female entrepreneurs in the tech space, we want to spread love and positivity,” Cordray chirped. “We want to operate with thoughtfulness.”
You know what would be really thoughtful? Leaving people’s names off the internet who want to be left alone and not assigning numerical values to private citizens.
To see the flaws inherent in this system, one need only look at any other review site, where people only tend to leave reviews if they had a really good or really bad time. Think about the kinds of people who take the time to tear down servers who make $2.13 an hour before tips because they failed to refill their water glasses as often as they would have liked. Do you really want to hand those people the keys to your personal brand?
If there is any silver lining to this, it’s that most people are still resistant enough to this level of privacy invasion that Peeple will likely be shamed into submission. The Post brings up how Lulu, the dude-rating app seemingly written by ditzy teenagers, quickly devolved from a high-tech burn book to a much less ambitious “dating intelligence” app that must be opted into by reviewees. In a world where regular people are willing to share an increasing amount of their lives online, it seems we still draw the line at non-consensual exposure.
They Made A Yelp For People, And You Can’t Opt Out Of It