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Peeple - when technology and mental health collide

Monday, 12 October 2015 Mind

The controversial app Peeple, 'a Yelp for humans' shows new technology can be threatening to mental health.

Un-appy beginnings

There is a happy ending to this story - but it starts badly. In early October 2015 an app called Peeple was announced. It was "an app designed to let you rate and rank every human being on Earth... 'Yelp for human beings'".

"The basic concept is to create a database of public ratings for people. Users would be able to to rate their experiences with other people, providing feedback both positive and negative that would be viewable publicly on the website and app. [...] Peeple is an app that allows you to rate and comment about the people you interact with in your daily lives on the following three categories: personal, professional, and dating" (source: Wired article 1 October 2015)

And the reaction to this on Twitter - funnily enough - was not positive...



Another project had good reason to be annoyed... Peeple is also the name of a hardware start-up that won funding from John Lewis' JLAB.

"The controversial Peeple caused outcry this week, with its ability to rate people as though they were restaurants or services. The JLAB-winning Peeple is an entirely different proposition, offering a smart spyhole that allows homeowners and tenants to keep track of who might be knocking on their door." (Source Marketing Magazine, 7 October 2015)

A change of plan

These and many, many more voices of concern apparently led to the removal of the possibility of 'negative reviews' with the founder stating:

"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.” (source: Guardian article 6 October 2015)

Not everyone was happy. This article spoke of "society's mollycoddling" and that "Peeple tried to toughen us up by removing some of the bubble wrap that society has placed around itself." 


And even the Guardian piece quoted above let slip a similar view. It doesn't state a view on the removal of the controversial features within the article - but the URL link reads: "peeple-ratings-app-removes-contentious-features-boring".

What do you think?

Do you think that apps or other technology like Peeple are an increasing threat to our mental health - or that the 'good' technology outweighs the bad? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter

Post by Chris from Mind's digital team
Picture credit: LolWot (Flickr)

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