The announcement of Peeple, an app where you rate people, has struck fear into the Internet community. A fear of being judged, shamed, stalked, and bullied. But at its core, Peeple takes away something far greater: control over our own destiny.
The overarching philosophy behind the app, according to the Peeple home page, is “Character is destiny.” The meaning behind this quote boils down to the idea that who we are influences our choices and drives our fate. The notion that the choices and impressions we make drive our successes and failures in life is a nice one — it gives us a sense of control over our lives. But a service like Peeple threatens to take that away, creating a jail of public opinion.
You've got to know your digital rights, says internet policy expert Rebecca MacKinnon.
Your performance as a friend, worker, and lover would be put on trial, and say you get a rough start on Peeple (and the service does gain wide acceptance). How do you overcome a mediocre rating? A blemish on your permanent Internet record. How do you deal with a constant barrage of negative reviews, responding to allegations, and asking for another rating after you put forth evidence to the contrary?
Say Peeple has done its job, though, showed you the errors of your ways and you're looking to turn it around. But with that horrible Peeple score, no one will give you the time of day.
This system mirrors the day-to-day struggle of former convicts. When they go to look for a job, they are confronted with the one question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” on job applications. It doesn't give the decarcerated a fair shake at proving their worth after serving time for their crime. I worry that an app like Peeple will create a similar toxic system.
An app like Peeple may have good intentions, but its philosophy is skewed. The fate of our lives is up to everyone else in a world with Peeple — it is no longer our own.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
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