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Moms' New Rating App? Please No

Photograph by Twenty20

There's a new app out there called "Peeple," and it's causing quite a bit of buzz. Mostly, negative. It has been called everything from a terrifying Yelp for people to the worst idea in the history of the Internet. Some insist it has to be a hoax.

The basic concept of Peeple is that users can review others professionally, personally or romantically, using a rating scale of one-to-five stars. The person being rated can do nothing to stop it.

The app's founders claim users must be at least 21, have an established Facebook accounts and use their real names. In order to post a review, a user must also have a cell phone number for the individual being rated.

They also insist, "Peeple is a positive only app. We want to bring positivity and kindness to the world."

Absolutely no one bought it. Not even a little bit.

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The Internet exploded with people pointing out the holes in the plan and the potentially negative—and seemingly obvious—impact the app could have. Given how much the Internet has demonstrated its ability to bring out the absolute worst in human nature, concern over the app's potential is warranted.

One group that knows all too well how technology is used to sling vitriol is moms. The Internet has become a space where women regularly, and relentlessly, attack each other over every single aspect of parenting.

How might that transfer to this new app?

Will some use it to attack, bully and defame others? There can be no doubt.

Let's imagine, for a moment, a neighbor witnesses a less than stellar parenting moment in your front yard. What if that person decided to rate you personally, and publicly, on Peeple? Giving an account of what she had seen and attacking your character? Or another mom didn't care for the way your child behaved at her child's birthday party and decided to take out her frustrations via the app?

What if a fellow member of the PTA was upset you didn't support her position on an issue and wanted to make sure everyone knew where you stand?

Let's be real; those are pretty tame examples compared to what most of us have seen online.

And that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What if teens start to use the app? Even with a stated minimum age of 21, kids find ways around the rules of social media sites and apps. Should moms be concerned about that? We have all seen the power technology has given people to destroy lives.

Will people use this app for its stated intended purpose? Possibly. Will some use it to attack, bully and defame others? There can be no doubt. And the creators seem completely clueless about that.

One of the founders of Peeple, Nicole McCullough, is a mom. She claims she likes the idea of an app that could help her decide whom to trust with her kids. Her partner insists their motives are entirely altruistic. "As two empathetic, female entrepreneurs in the tech space, we want to spread love and positivity," Julia Cordray said in an interview. "We want to operate with thoughtfulness."

I want to believe these two women are really that naïve. Because then I could possibly relate.

Four years later I limped away from my project, "The Mom Pledge," having been exposed far too many times to the ugly side of human nature and feeling I had made no impact whatsoever.

Not long after I began blogging and interacting with others via social media, I was exposed to dark underbelly of the Internet. And I wanted to do something about it, to try to make a positive difference.

Four years later I limped away from my project, "The Mom Pledge," having been exposed far too many times to the ugly side of human nature and feeling I had made no impact whatsoever. I watched helplessly from the sidelines as moms continued to attack one another online.

In the days following Peeple's introduction, Cordray and McCullough witnessed and participated in everything that has the potential to go wrong with their app. After deleting negative comments on their Facebook page, threatening critics on Twitter, blocking anyone who criticized them and ironically serving as the perfect example of why people were raising concerns about their creation, the founders attempted to erase its online presence.

For now at least.

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It remains to be seen if the app will actually launch or what it will look like. This story has been very fluid. But the founders claim they are not deterred by the backlash.

Perhaps we don't have to worry about Peeple. But now that the idea is out there, what will be next?

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