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People-rating app 'Peeple' launches amid controversy

A controversial phone app that allows users to rate other people is now available for download in the US and Canada. Many people are condemning the app on social media and raising privacy concerns.

Peeple allows users to rate and review people according to their relationship: professional, personal or dating. Apps such as Yelp and TripAdviser allow users to review businesses and are used by millions of people around the world. This has led some to call Peeple “Yelp for people.”

The creators of the app, Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough, say that they created their app to “to change the way people can learn about each other online” and to help people better choose who they want to have as a roommate, hire as a housecleaner or go out on a date with.

The slogan for the app is “Character is destiny” and according to its website, the goal is to make “character” into a new form of currency.

Plans for the app were announced late last year. Initially the founders said the app would allow users to create a profile for anyone as long as they had the person's phone number or social media usernames.

Users could then write a good review of a friend or colleague or a negative review of an ex-boyfriend. People wondered whether profiles and ratings could be used to enact revenge or just to make fun of someone. And the fact that that person would have no control over that profile – nor could they delete it - made many people nervous. Some on social media nicknamed Peeple the “Bully app.”

The amount of negative attention led to a lot of media coverage of the Canada-based founders. Initially the duo stood behind their idea claiming that it was a sound business idea which fit with the times. One of the founders even said that they would not be “bullied” into scrapping their idea.

But soon after they stated on their Facebook page that they would address many of the concerns by the time the app was launched.

Version 2.0

It seems that the company did address most of the issues raised in the version released this week. Users of the app can create their own profile where others can rate them on a scales of 1-10. According to the app's website, it aims to provide “a safe place to manage your online reputation while protecting your greatest assets by making better decisions about the people around you.”

People can search for the profiles of other people they are interested in interacting with. Users themselves can also control their profiles and only publish reviews that they approve of. The app is now available for Apple iPhone users living in Canada and the US only.

One feature that has concerned many is that users can write a review for another person who does not have a profile. Then a message or a text would be sent to the person in question asking whether they want to open a profile. But people wondered what would happen to these reviews if the people "reviewed" refuse to open a profile.

In response to a question on the app's Facebook page, the company said that “no one can make a profile for you. No one can add you to the app” and that “bullying will not be tolerated and users and can block and report other users.”

Telling the ‘truth?'

As the app is today, it is free to download and free from ads. But according to the company's website, in the near future the app will release a paid upgrade called the “truth license.” For one dollar a day, people will be able to see all reviews and recommendations that a person has linked to their profile, even if the person did not publish them.

Founder Cordray said in an interview with that not only would people who paid for the upgrade be able to rebut any negative reviews people write about them, they would also be able to “see all the recommendations that someone has written about others to really get a good read on what that person's character is like.”

This feature has led to a lot of comments and questions on the app's and many of the replies from Peeple seem to contradict other replies. Interest in the app appears to be high but whether or not people are downloading it is impossible to assess. After four days, the app has 142 ratings on its Apple iTunes page (average score 1.5 stars out of 5).

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