At this point, I'm thinking the new Peeple app is a hoax.
If you haven't heard about it, it's a rating app, but instead of seeking your unvarnished opinion about businesses, food or hotels, this app's focus is human beings.
Touted as "Yelp for people" it immediately seems crazy — but then again, the folks in Silicon Valley aren't known for being in touch with reality, which can be a good thing. Thinking outside the box is great, but maybe this idea proves there's such a thing as going too far outside the box?
Set to supposedly launch in November, the Peeple app requires people to make ratings (a 1-5 star system) and comments under their own name, to be Facebook-verified, and your connection (personal, professional or romantic) to the person you're reviewing person, according to the Washington Post. Originally, you couldn't choose to be on the site or to remove yourself from it. You would only be there because someone added you.
The founders revised that idea when, not surprisingly, people freaked out about the concept, citing privacy concerns, bullying and general discomfort with the idea. Peeple's principals responded made the app opt-in. And then they changed it from a site where both negative and positive reviews were allowed to one where only positive, approved reviews will appear.
The founders now say that Peeple is going to be a positivity app. "We want to be given the opportunity to prove to you that the world is predominantly good, filled with people that absolutely love you, and want to lift you up," said CEO and co-founder of Peeple, Julia Cordray, in the video above.
That's very different from what Cordray wrote in a YouTube video comment in August: "I think it’s important to know the negative too. I wouldn’t want this app to just be positive."
After some time on the Internet with other human beings weighing in with their honest opinions on social media, the Peeple team made changes in the app. (But the team also deleted negative comments from Facebook and Twitter.)
Cordray wrote, on a clarifying post on LinkedIN: "... now I’m going to use myself as an example for what can happen when negative comments can be made about you without your approval. Since the interview with The Washington Post, I’ve received death threats and extremely insulting comments aimed at me, my investors, and my family on almost every social media tool possible. I hope now if nothing else by watching me, you can clearly see why the world needs more love and positivity. Here’s the catch: I can’t delete any of them. They are there forever for the world to see. That’s not the world I want to live in and neither should you."
Sounds like Cordray has learned her lesson about how the world really works. But before she developed an app, shouldn't she have already known that?
Or maybe, just maybe, this is all a joke? One of my friends posited that it's a stunt for the new season of HBO's "Silicon Valley," or an elaborate prank by some other group. Snopes.com thinks there are some very questionable parts to the site's timeline, but the stie stops short of calling it a hoax.
But Cordray has specifically said it isn't a hoax. So perhaps it's just a case of a couple great marketers selling something that wasn't well thought out. Or maybe the app was just a way to point viewers to the web series, which was a reality show showing how to bring an app to market.
Cumulatively, investors have sunk $7.6 million into the app's development, which indicates that Cordray and her partner weren't the only people who were confused about what they were creating.
I'll be looking forward to seeing what — if anything — debuts in November.