Friday, October 9, 2015

Like Yelp, But For Website Visitors (plus-woman who reviews peeple doesn't like getting reviewed)

There has, apparently, been a coup d'Etat at FT Alphaville where founder Paul Murphy is not to be found swinging on his usual Markets Live perch.

We'll have more if communications with Mr. Murphy can be restored but for now it appears the inmates are running the asylum.

And speaking of crazy...
From FT Alphaville:

A little more on China’s rumoured plan to one-up the only somewhat dystopian plans of Peeple by putting in place an invasive credit rating system.

Yelp for people, meet Yelp for citizens — may you both choke on the outrage you generate. Assuming the outrage is well founded, of course.

And we wonder if, where China is concerned, the outrage is accurately targeted. And whether this says more about where the world is heading generally, and less about China’s nefariousness in particular (this time around).

From the FT’s Lucy Hornby:
Chinese internet companies are battling it out to create credit ratings based not just on citizens’ finances but also their social networks, raising fears that Big Brother could take up residence in consumers’ wallets.
Sesame Credit and other credit rating systems are responding to a glaring need for a credit rating database in a country that has seen rapid growth in personal credit cards, mortgages and online payments systems. About a third of Chinese own credit cards, up from 15 per cent five years ago....MUCH MORE, including this chilling bit:
... Just so you know, plans for Alphaville to apply rankings to readers based on the sincerity of their comments are proceeding well.
All of which reminded me on the Register's take on Peeple, Oct. 1:

Woman makes app that lets people rate and review you, Yelp-style. Now SHE'S upset people are 'reviewing' her
Here comes the irony grenade for Peeple founder

It was oh so predictable.

The founder of new slander-app Peeple has been surprised to discover people slandering her online.
Julia Cordray, of Calgary, Canada, landed herself and her company a ton of publicity this week, appearing everywhere from the Washington Post to ABC News, talking about how the app – due to be launched next month – would enable people to rate others.

"The Peeple app allows us to better choose who we hire, do business with, date, become our neighbors, roommates, landlords/tenants, and teach our children," the company pitches. Cordray and co-founder Nicole McCullough feel it is a "positivity app for positive people."

Except of course it took the rest of the world about two seconds to figure out that filtering the world to only include those with positive feelings was not exactly realistic, and all the app was likely to do was invite an endless stream of abuse, bullying, and stalking.

Right on cue, the internet popped up to make that point.

"One of my clients is a counsellor and your app is probably going to allow him to retire from the droves of people that are about to get their lives destroyed by your app. To be honest it is going to be pretty interesting to see how much of a legal disaster this turns into, might be a lesson for everyone else," wrote one poster on the company's Facebook page.

Another: "We get that there may be folks out there who also think this is just a grand idea, but surely SURELY you can appreciate the ground-swell of hundreds of thousands of people who think this is just an appalling idea?? Doesn't it make you stop and think?"

The, ahem, feedback continued:
This is not Yelp for people. This is a harassment tool for abusers. You can talk about all the planned safeguards you want, but abusers live to game systems, and you're handing them the biggest present they could ever hope for, guaranteed.
And these are the polite posts.

Both the company's social media accounts and the personal accounts of the founders have been hit hard. It didn't take long for Peeple's positivity to fizzle out. Cordray whined:
Bullying IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING and that is what are [sic] app is NOT. You are the reason we have an app.
Both founders have been deleting critical and aggressive comments and tweets as fast as they can all day – and failing miserably.

In one now-deleted Facebook post, Cordray asked: "Anyone know how to prevent people from posting on the comments on a company Facebook page? I know how to prevent people from posting on our page just not commenting on our posts."...MUCH MORE 
...Updated to add
Cordray has posted a long message on her website. We'll just leave it here for you to marvel.
An Ode to Courage: Innovators are often put down because people are scared and they don’t understand. We are bold innovators and sending big waves into motion and we will not apologize for that because we love you enough to give you this gift. We know you are amazing, special, and unique individuals...
Anyone who talks like that is prima facie hateable.