THE BLOG
01/10/2015 08:15 BST | Updated 30/09/2016 06:12 BST

Peeple Is a Societal Nadir That Can't Be Allowed to Establish Itself

We're not a commodity and, contrary to hotels, cars, books etc. we have feelings and emotions, and are essentially pretty fragile individuals who really don't need - as the Register has dubbed it - 'slander-as-a-service'. How anyone could think this even vaguely a clever idea, and not a malicious, odious platform for bullying and nastiness is beyond me.

There's an unwritten rule in creative brainstorming that 'no idea is a bad idea' - which anyone who has been in one will tell you is nonsense; a lot of ideas are very bad. One, which somehow leaked out of the room it was borne within is Peeple, an app which will allow you to rate and review people. Because, as we all know, humans are a commodity to rate in the same way as a hotel, a restaurant, a book, or a car.

Except we're not a commodity and, contrary to hotels, cars, books etc. we have feelings and emotions, and are essentially pretty fragile individuals who really don't need - as the Register has dubbed it - 'slander-as-a-service'. How anyone could think this even vaguely a clever idea, and not a malicious, odious platform for bullying and nastiness is beyond me.

Critically, you don't even have control over being added as a subject matter - if someone wants to review you, ("review you" - what a vile turn of phrase), they can add your profile using just your mobile number; you'll receive a text saying you've been added, but you won't have the ability to remove the listing. Yep, that's right, you have no control over being added, and you don't have control over removal.

The founders, Nicole McCullough and Julia Cordray, say that any nasty reviews are quarantined for a number of days and will allow the subject of them to ask why they're nasty - "hi, I've noticed you don't like me - why not?". Because that's the right prioritisation approach huh... post abuse, then put the onus on the recipient of it to establish why it should come down; (and because asking such a question is clearly a simple thing, and one I'm sure will make the antagonist think twice about their comments).

Social media has done an awful lot to bring people together, but it has also led to a rise in cyber-bullying, trolling and abuse, and this brainless platform brings together everything which is terrible about it and packaged it up in one tidy bundle. There should have been lessons learnt from Luluvise, the app which allows women to rate men they've dated, with journalist Jules Mattsson suggesting Peeple should go the same way but "with more lawsuits". This is an important point - the structure of the platform and the manner in which those involved have no control over their presence on it is a litigation magnet. Hopefully.

The main reason why I find Peeple so utterly vile is that it's a suicide waiting to happen. There's a lot of issues endemic in our society around mental health, and there's hundreds of charities which work hard to educate everyone on the need to take the issues as seriously as they do other, more physically visible injuries and problems. Peeple allows free rein to the nastier side of society to attack the vulnerable, and if it's allowed to blossom it's not hyperbolic to suggest that there will inevitably be lives lost to it.

Peeple is beyond parody - if it was dreamt up on an episode of Black Mirror or Nathan Barley, viewers would squirm at the thought of it. Yet it exists. Someone, somewhere has put money behind it, (start-up investor and entrepreneur Gabbi Cahane points out it already has a £7m value pre-launch, before adding that it's "creepy, dystopian, reductive, weird") - they're trying to invest in turning real people into object to be reviewed and rated, utterly ignoring the fact that this has the capacity to destroy people. With Peeple, the power is in the hands of the bully, and this is an appalling and disgusting power bias.

It's rare that I wish ill of a start-up, but I sincerely hope this never sees the light of day.