Do people think you're a jerk? Peeple may help you find out
When people heard about the app that helps you review people on the Internet, they panned it as a terrible idea. Now it's been released.
Ian SherrContributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Julia Cordray made her career helping recruit people for jobs. So it makes sense she'd create an app that helps people manage their online reputation, soliciting and giving recommendations about their character.
What she didn't expect was to be savaged.
Headlines across the Internet called her two-year-old company out for creating a creepy, bully-inspiring app. The Washington Post called it "Yelp for people," a "terrifying" service that lets people offer praise or criticism of your professional, personal or dating life -- whether you want them to or not. There's even been a Twitter account created, calling itself "People Vs. Peeple."
Amid the blowback, Cordray was targeted by social media campaigns.
"If you Google my name you can easily see why social media isn't a safe place to manage your reputation," said Cordray, who got death threats after announcing the idea for Peeple in October 2015.
Now her free app for the iPhone is available for download. But still, is it even a good idea?
Without question, Peeple has hit a nerve. While it makes sense as a logical progression of the Internet -- we used to review movies, then restaurants, then dog-sitters -- it's also terrifying.
Social media helps people share their most intimate moments on a public scale, it's become a tool of political revolution and it's helped people learn. Social networks have also become one of the most damaging tools in people's lives. They've been used by bullies, bigots and racists. They've become a way to relentlessly harass, and the things people post has driven some of their targets to suicide.
The 35-year-old Cordray, who's based in Calgary, said her app is misunderstood. She likens it to a way for people who know you to vouch for how good a person you are -- kind of a LinkedIn endorsement. When you think like a talent recruiter like Cordray, who needs this type of information all the time, the app makes a lot of sense.
"Right now, you're at the mercy of trolls," she said. "Social media can be better."
Cordray's responded to criticism by making the app's privacy protections more robust, such as by relying on a Facebook profile and phone number to help confirm someone's identity. Peeple also now has the ability to block or report abuse, and there's no star rating that could lead to you being judged like an app or a pizza.
You, as a user, can also hide reviews.
Cordray declined to say how many times the app has been downloaded or how many people are using the service, saying her data analysis people need 48 hours to glean definitive information. However, she noted that Peeple was trending in the app store's search algorithms, indicating people are at least interested in it.
At the end of our conversation, Cordray offered to give me a review. "Whether he agrees with our concept or not, I appreciate him taking the time to ask the right questions," she wrote. I have to admit, that's a review I won't mind sharing.
Watch this: Backlash against Peeple, the app for rating human beings