Peeple goes into hiding to retool the app

The internet flames scorched Peeple, and now its online presence has at least partially gone up in smoke.

For now, anyway.

As of Tuesday morning, it was Sayonara to the app’s Twitter account, hasta luego to its Facebook account, and site-not-found for its website.

But don’t get your hopes up: this beast isn’t dead yet.

According to the BBC, some users are being sent to a landing page when they try to access forthepeeple.com.

The message on that page:

Join the positive revolution #oct12

Julia Cordray, one of the app’s co-founders, said this to the BBC in an email:

We look forward to October 12, 2015 where we will be taping for an exclusive talk show and expose our concept to the world.

World's largest positivity app for positive people launching November 2015 on iOS and Android.

No details about the talk show were forthcoming; nor did she explain why the app’s social media accounts have been disabled.

Peeple is, of course, the app that came out of nowhere a few weeks ago and was met with great fear and loathing, particularly given that its founders’ initial descriptions made it sound like anybody could sign you up by using your phone number and a burner Facebook profile, and there wasn’t an apparent way to delete such profiles.

Nor would there be a way to delete negative reviews – instead, you’d have 48 hours to “work it out” with the negative reviewer/bully/troll, as the case may be.

If it wasn’t all just a hoax – Snopes found circumstantial evidence that it might be – or a marketing scheme for a “we’re building an app!” reality show, it would have been/will be the Yelp for people: an app that lets people rate each other on a five-star scale.

As Snopes pointed out, Peeple was announced abruptly, with no previous mention of it on tech blogs or sites, and no specific details released.

Did outrage cause the founders to give up? As it is, the outcry included a Change.org petition to keep Peeple out of app stores and ban its promised (or threatened, as the case may be) launch in November.

Comedian John Oliver classified Peeple as…

The kind of bull---- mash-up that Silicon Valley loves... Like Skype—for sandwiches.... and Uber drivers for SCUBA divers...

The internet essentially exists so people can say vicious things about each other, and we don't need another app to facilitate that.

Peeple has been described as a psychologist’s nightmare.

From Psychology Today:

"Rating" people without a relational exchange is gossip at its worst. It removes all context and accountability. In these circumstances, people fall back on heuristics and stereotypes, give preference to superficial attributes, such as attractiveness, promote double standards for things like gender representation (like we see in the response to selfies), and exhibit all the other inherent cognitive and biological biases and instincts we use to deal with incomplete information.  

Even though its internet properties had blinked out of sight as of Tuesday, there are plenty of signs pointing to the fact that Peeple’s founders have NOT changed their minds.

Co-founder Julia Cordray on Sunday put up a LinkedIn post saying that it’s no hoax, though we’re all wrong about what the app’s about.

It is, and has always been, a “positivity” app, she said, and the co-founders have “every intention of releasing it at the end of November.”

Peeple will not be a tool to tell other humans how horrible they are. Actually, it's the exact opposite.

Peeple is a POSITIVE ONLY APP. We want to bring positivity and kindness to the world.

She used herself as an example: since an early interview with the Washington Post, she, her investors and her family have received insults and death threats, she said: a clear sign of the world needing “more love and positivity.”

And that is why, she said in a flurry of unexplained backtracking, Peeple will focus on the positive and ONLY THE POSITIVE” as a “100% OPT-IN system.”

That’s right, you won’t be on the platform without permission, she said, with a now-characteristic lack of detail as to how, for example, the platform will verify the identity of somebody who signs up with somebody else’s phone number and a bogus Facebook profile.

Likewise, there will be “no way to even make negative comments.”

And that 48-hour waiting period before negative comments go live? The period that she described in interviews as being the time to “work it out” with the negative commenter?

It’s either gone because the founders are listening to reason, or we are all the subjects of mass delusion – she doesn’t say which, but she does say it ain’t gonna happen:

There is no 48 hour waiting period to remove negative comments.

There is no way to even make negative comments. Simply stated, if you don't explicitly say "approve recommendation", it will not be visible on our platform.

I’m starting to believe that she believes what she’s saying. After all, she posted this question on Facebook: anyone know how to prevent people from posting on the comments of a company Facebook page?

That’s right: as John Oliver frames it, the creator of an app to facilitate unsolicited criticism wants to block unsolicited criticism.

I’m glad Peeple has gone into hiding to retool the project.

These marketing mavens want to spin the backlash as us getting it all wrong?

Fine. Don’t care. Spin away.

I just hope they get it right this time, if that’s possible with an app like this.

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