Imagine a world in which every former boss, bad first date, or disgruntled colleague could complain about you online – and it would have the weight of a LinkedIn recommendation or a Yelp review. That’s the dystopian future seemingly promised by Peeple, the as-yet-unlaunched app that would allow users to rate people as if they were restaurants or movie theaters. As you can imagine, the internet burst into flames, hounding the founders on social media until they took down their feeds, accounts, and even the company site itself. There’s just one problem: some savvy watchers of internet brouhahas are now asking if the the whole thing is a hoax.
(Photo Credit: pete simon/Flickr)
A hoax? Maybe. Here’s what we know so far.
Peeple is supposed to launch soon.
On September 30, 2015, The Washington Post published a piece on the app. It stated that it was set to launch in November, and that Peeple would allow anyone and everyone to rate and rank the folks they know, on the classic one- to five-star scale, making it a virtual Yelp for Humans.
Many folks went a little crazy over the Peeple app, and not in a good way.
In the days that followed, dramatic headlines abounded and writers scrambled to publish a piece on the new (and horrifying) application. The idea that people would be ranked, without their permission or even knowledge, and subsequently reviewed on the internet, did not go over well. It was dubbed, terrifying, horrible, and truly awful – the story was getting a lot of negative attention … quickly.
But, was the whole thing a hoax?
Then, just a few days after the story first broke, Seung Lee of Newsweek wrote a piece that explored the idea that the entire thing might have been a hoax from the very beginning. She cited common sense, sketchy depth (or shallows) of information, and a Snopes response, that bolstered her case. Maybe this was all just a prank.
— Josh Scherr (@joshscherr) October 1, 2015
The fact is, we’re not entirely sure just yet if Peeple is for real or not. But, either way, there are a few things we can learn from this whole debacle.
1. It pays to be skeptical.
We all know that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But, maybe the reverse is true as well. The almost universally negative response Peeple inspired should’ve given us pause right from the jump. People are capable of some truly terrible things, but are they capable of … Peeple?
2. Reputation is very important.
The idea that co-workers, exes, and old roommates, could publicly rank and rate us was terrifying. Our public reputations matter intensely for our careers. This whole thing should serve as a reminder to build strong, positive reputations with the folks we come into contact with throughout our days, both at work and in our personal lives.
3. There are limits to what people will accept from the internet.
We’re all learning to live with the good and bad that come with being instantaneously and globally connected through modern technology. But, there are limits to what we’ll stomach. This idea pushed the envelope too far and people made their opinions known. Maybe there’s hope for the internet, and for all of us, after all.
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