An app that allows users to rate people like they would rate a restaurant is scheduled for a November release, but it already has the internet up in arms.
Calgary-developed Peeple will allow users to rate other humans on a scale of one to five stars, much like a Yelp review.
All you need to create a profile for someone is their cellphone number. The subject of the profile cannot delete the comments or the rating, according to an article in the Washington Post.
“You’re going to rate people in the three categories that you can possibly know somebody — professionally, personally or romantically,” Peeple CEO and co-founder Julia Cordray told CBC Calgary in September. “So you’d be able to go on and choose your five-star rating, write a comment and you will not be anonymous.”
Negative comments will sit unpublished in the person’s inbox for 48 hours, giving them the opportunity to work out any disputes with the person who posted them, according to Peeple’s website. If the dispute can’t be resolved in that time, the comment will go live. The person can publicly defend themselves by commenting on the negative review.
Peeple says it will take a number of precautions to prevent the service from becoming a cesspool of nasty reviews. Reviewers will be required to use their real identities as verified by Facebook, and new Facebook profiles won’t be allowed to participate.
Positive reviews of another person — those rated three or more stars on a five-star scale — will be posted immediately, but negative reviews will be held until the subject has time to review them. If someone refuses to register for the site, those negative reviews will be kept private indefinitely.
So the emerging caricature of Peeple as an app for stalkers and disgruntled exes may turn out to be wrong. It may actually be harder to harass people on Peeple than on existing social media platforms.
The thing is, I have seen people making comments on public websites using their Facebook identities. This scarcely restrains them at all. An app like Peeple could easily serve as a platform to let shameless people do terrible things to other, without any identifiable recourse. The Internet is forever, but at least it was better than high school.
The real shame? Even if Peeple is stopped, or radically transformed, other like apps are likely to develop.
In MacLean’s, journalist Rosemary Counter describes how she survived a fierce global Twitter reaction to one of her articles.
At 1:54 a.m., the first tweet came. “Please help, very racist article!” it read, with a sudden sense of urgency and a link to my most recent piece in a city newspaper. The headline, at the time, read, “A feast of local delicacies not for the faint-hearted,” and the body was a short travel piece about challenging myself to eat strange (to me) local delicacies while in the Philippines.
A few months earlier, and with the help of a Filipino guide who kindly escorted me around Palawan ordering foods for me to try, I’d eaten woodworm and “chicken ass” (his words) and crocodile. With what was supposed to be a Buzzfeed-esque quick-hit tone, I described each with a personal “ick factor,” then ate them anyhow. I enjoyed all but one, a boiled duck embryo called balut, which, because I’d eaten all the other foods and topped it off with a malaria pill in sweltering heat, I took one look at before vomiting over a wall. (Once upon a time, this was a funny story.) I returned to Canada with fabulous memories and experiences, psyched to write about my trip.
The first piece published was about my afternoon at the Selfie Museum at Manila, the world’s first and only selfie museum. Nobody noticed it.
Similarly, the food piece, for five glorious days, received only a handful of the usual “great job!” comments and a casual few Facebook likes, mostly for the photo of me with my tongue out and about to eat a woodworm, which we’d added at the last minute just for fun. Otherwise, the piece’s tone was amped up to be “edgy,” then turned up another notch online, where its title changed to “PETA-offending treats on the menu in the Philippines.”
The click bait didn’t work; the piece failed to gain steam and I had mostly already forgotten about it. I was getting married out of town that weekend, had been frantic and distracted for months. In fact, at first, I wasn’t even sure which piece the tweet referred to. In six years as a freelance writer, I’ve only dabbled in travel writing, but a handful of pieces came to mind as maybe-offenders. In those same six years, I’ve become used to the occasional negative tweet. Usually, I immediately and sheepishly apologize.
Open Democracy’s Digital Liberties project features an essay by Matthew Linares noting the implications of Facebook’s increasing dominance of the Internet. The gated garden is impending.
Regulator Tom Wheeler noted the internet’s status as a “core of free expression and democratic principles” as reason to uphold net neutrality; the fact that this idea determines legislative treatment colours the debate about what kind of beast Facebook has become. If it assumes so much control that it significantly alters who sees what and how, the effect on access to information will be similar to that of ISPs throttling content for cash, whilst possibly affecting a wider customer base. If the legislative problem is about a level playing field, the Facebook effect cannot prudently be ignored. Despite change rendering even web monoliths precarious, network effects make the biggest players something more than just another firm in a marketplace. Facebook may require us to rethink what sort of thing can be considered a public utility.
A recent product from Facebook, “Instant Articles” is an integration of full pieces from publishers directly inside of Facebook. A user can now click on an article in their news feed, and immediately see the full thing, rich and colourful in Facebook, without wasting 8 seconds to leave and load it at the publisher’s website.
On one reading, this is a boon for all. Facebook’s technical prowess makes news and media smoother and more enjoyable. That’s what great firms do, bettering service both for publishers, advertisers and users.
However, this is also something like the ‘walled garden’ tendency common to commercial providers who seek to control users. Instant Articles reduce the reasons to leave Facebook. Users then spend longer within Facebook, consuming media as they socialise. Facebook continues to curate the user news feed that acts as an ever greater tributary of all internet content. This feature is visible elsewhere as publisher platforms become prevalent, but Facebook is the main contender.
Rob Fahey’s post analyzing the bizarre scandal surrounding David Cameron’s alleged actions with a pig is a must-read.
I suspect that David Cameron will limp on in 10 Downing Street, not least because he will understand the historic shame of being the Prime Minister who resigned over the thing with the pig, but his authority will be weakened to the point where a leadership challenge over a rather less intimate issue in the relatively near future will give him an opportunity to bow out with some grace. Whether this scandal is ultimately his undoing or not, it is clearly a calculated attack. Lord Ashcroft feels snubbed and sidelined by Cameron, who seemingly declined to offer him the cabinet position to which he felt entitled; the billionaire’s revenge is to dig up this singularly humiliating moment from the prime minister’s past and ensure that it is splashed on the front page of the Daily Mail, the preferred scurrilous tabloid rag of the very heartland of Conservative voters.
Lord Ashcroft, pollster and political guru in his own right, knows as well as anyone else what this will do. This is not a playful aside in a fun little unauthorised biography that he’s putting together as a hobby with his journalist pal, Oakeshott; this is a carefully targeted, focused attack designed to wreak career havoc upon, and cause huge personal embarrassment for, a man whom Ashcroft sees as disloyal, or as having stepped out of line. And here, I think, is something much bigger and more interesting than the scurrilous details of Cameron’s vivid indiscretion; here is a rare public example of how power is wielded by Britain’s elite, of how control is exerted over those they wish to manipulate, and of how those groomed for success from a young age can be destroyed should they be seen to diverge from the steps they’re told to dance.
Initiation ceremonies or “hazing” rituals, often of a painful, humiliating, transgressive or sexual nature, are a well-documented part of the culture of many organisations run by and for young men, especially those from positions of privilege or in elite institutions. Hazing is a fixture, albeit usually in less extreme form than many might imagine, of “greek life” at US colleges; initiation rituals of some description are relatively common in elite societies at top educational institutions elsewhere. Such rituals seem to be an especially important part of extremely disciplined groups such as certain military units. The primary social function served by these rituals is to accelerate and deepen the bonds shared by members of the group, and the sense of loyalty to the group each person holds. By committing transgressive acts together, members develop a sense of sharing in a mutual secret, thus instantly creating trust; by overcoming some humiliation or pain, new members deepen their commitment to the group, as their internal logic reasons that if they are willing to endure such an ordeal, it must mean that the group is important and deserving of loyalty (otherwise, they would have made a terrible mistake and gone through all of that suffering for nothing). Through these acts bonds are forged, networks established; the “old school tie”, used as a metaphor for Britain’s elite networks, is also a metaphor for the actions and rituals, transgressive or otherwise, which created those networks during the formative years of their members.
That much is somewhat understandable; in truth, few of us are not part of a “network” based in some way on the same psychology, even if our networks are perhaps less likely to involve prime ministers and billionaires. Bearing witness to one another doing embarrassing things, usually if not always under the influence of alcohol, is a fairly standard part of the socialisation process, especially for young men; it may not be quite as ritualised or organised as ceremonial events which require very specific orders from local butchers, but moments of embarrassment or transgression shared with close friends are a basic building block of many of our relationships.
Language Log explains Obama’s strange Chinese nickname.
Languages of the World notes controversies over Spanish pronunciations.
Lawyers, Guns and Money notes bootleg Soviet liquor in the Afghanistan war.
Marginal Revolution Looks at China’s surprisingly mixed experience of the 1930s and notes China’s weak growth prospects.
pollotencheggmaps language and identity in southeastern Ukraine in 1926 and finds continuities with the present.
Strange Maps depicts the distribution of refugees across Europe.
Towleroad notes the success of Truvada in preventing HIV infection.
The Volokh Conspiracy notes how people can claim religious exemptions on the job.
Window on Eurasia notes the solidarity of Belarusian soccer fans with Ukraine, notes the vulnerabiliy of Belarus to Russia, examines controversy over the Rail Baltica project, and wonders if the Donbas war will be to Russia what the Afghanistan war was to the Soviet Union.
Zero Geography celebrates the publication of a new book.