IT just got incredibly personal. The controversial app “Peeple” invites users to recommend and rate others professionally, personally, and even as a date. It’s set to launch in Canada and the United States starting this Monday, March 7th.

There was an uproar regarding the idea, as the app was set to allow for people to be added and rated without their consent. The criticism sent developers back to the drawing board. Now this latest version will only allow for members who have signed up to be visible on the site.

The original app was also going to utilize a “five star” rating system similar to that of Yelp. This idea has also been dropped, likely because of its dehumanizing nature and philosophical and ethical issues regarding quantifying the value of a human being.

Instead, judgments will take the form of “recommendations.”

peeple2Co-founder Julia Cordray explained that app users will be able to control which recommendations appear on their profiles, making the site less likely to be a hub of cyberbullying and a magnet for the ugliness of the internet. Not that it will help all that much.

Especially when you take into consideration that, in April, Peeple will unleash a premium service called the “Truth License” that will enable those who pay to upgrade to view all comments made regarding the members, whether those members have chosen to share the comments or not.

Upgrades are likely to cost about $1 a month according to Cordray.

“We are going to hold everybody accountable to what they say about others,” she explained. How likely the couple is to hold itself accountable for the monstrous platform for public and personal criticism is exemplified by the fact that the company is still pushing to release the app despite the mountains of backlash that its concept has received.

The firm behind Peeple was apparently shocked by the outrage that greeted its first unveiling of the app. Web users stated that the concept ranged from “creepy” to “terrifying.”

“We could never have predicted the backlash to the concept,” stated Cordray. “But it was a positive thing because we ended up being able to give the people what they wanted.” She was quick to add that despite any storm of criticism that may have greeted the app at first, 10,000 people did volunteer to beta-test the app.

The following changes have been made to the original concept: Peeple users will be able to control what goes live on their profiles, no one can add others to the app without their consent, profiles can be de-activated, and the star rating system will be replaced with a public view of the total number of recommendations received.

Users will also be able to grey-out the “dating” category so that they neither make nor receive recommendations in the field.

Peeple, an app under development and co-founded by an Orange County woman, came under Internet fire for its purpose to give people a star rating, much like Yelp. The founders have shifted gears and are now pitching the app as a positivity network.

To use the app, members must use their Facebook log-ins. They can be blocked or reported if they break rules, and activation involves a entering a pin code sent to a user’s mobile phone.

University of East Anglia law professor and privacy advocate Paul Bernal still believes the app is worrying: “It has solved some of the problems, but very significant problems remain,” he stated. “The fact that you can no longer rate people who aren’t on it is probably the best thing they have done but it also means it’s unlikely to succeed as it will be much more limited for the people who do join it.”

“The idea of de-activating your profile is illusionary because the data is still there and vulnerable,” he added. “The Truth License overrides almost all of their safeguards- if people say bad stuff about you that stuff could get out… I actually think calling it the Truth License is unbelievably creepy.”

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