‘Yelp’ for people is a hotspot for bullies, judgment despite changes


Many are calling Peeple, a newly released app in North America, “Yelp for people.” Users can post character reviews of other people, judging them and writing a description of their personality.

If you sign up for the app, you’re subjecting yourself to be reviewed by your peers, your enemies and quite literally anyone who has ever known you. These reviews can be posted to your own account with your permission so that people can look at your profile and see what others think about you.

A lot of changes were made to the app before it was brought to North America. You can’t post about someone who doesn’t have a profile and you can’t make a profile for someone else. Accounts can be deleted at any time so if you’re sick of the service, it’s easy to step away from it. These measures were taken to improve the experience and prevent bullying, but completely ignore the larger issue with creating an app like this.

Though the app has been amended, there is still the “truth license” that will come out in April. For a price, the user can buy this and see every single review that they’ve ever received –public or not. This means that even if someone wrote something about you out of spite or anger, you can still see it. This will only exacerbate any issues that could arise.

The app is advertised toward mothers to get a second opinion on coaches or those who go out on a date to get another perspective on that guy or girl. It’s advertised to adults, but it’s likely the main group of people who would go out of their way to sign up for this app would be college students and worse, high school students. Those without the maturity to judge professionals on their service or even just people on their characteristics could easily use the app as a tool to cyberbully others. It can be difficult to resist the temptation to download the app and see what others say about you, especially for those still in high school.

The app may have had good intentions and it still can be used in this way for those who have unprofessional titles – coaches, babysitters, dates – but it’s too easy for people to use incorrectly or in a dangerous manner. It facilitates the expression of mean comments about an ex or someone you see from high school you don’t like. It’s too simple to let curiosity get the best of you and check what others are saying about you.

The temptation to use the app incorrectly is so strong that it’s hard to see how it can be used in a productive manner.

Peeple has seen at least some success overseas – otherwise it wouldn’t be expanding to North America. There is hope that it would be used the way it was originally intended to be, which could really lead to better services and a better understanding of the people around us. But this and the next generation’s attachment to technology could turn it into a dangerous tool.

The editorial board can be reached at eic@ubspectrum.com.