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October 15, 2015 / Molly Moseley

‘Yelp for people’ app won’t be of any use to HR

forthepeeple

facebook.com/peeptheapp

We’ve all read reviews online about restaurants, hotels and movies, but what if you could read unbiased positive and negative reviews on people as well?

According to a Sept. 30th Washington Post article, this was the concept behind the app called Peeple. It turns out, however, that people were not too pleased with the idea. In fact, after a fair amount of Internet outrage, Peeple’s social media sites have been shut down, leaving behind only a sparse landing page.

What appears to have happened is that the public outcry caused the app’s founder Julia Cordray to reconsider some of the not-so-great original features — such as a 48-hour waiting period before negative comments would go live, and the lack of an opt-out feature. Cordray has now stated via LinkedIn that the app will be only for positive reviews and will 100 percent require users to opt-in.

While I have no idea what this app will look like when it launches in November, I do know it will be of little use to those of us in HR and recruiting. It won’t work, and here’s why:

Humans are not businesses/things: To take a person and allow him or her to be rated as you would an object is just not right. Would you be happy to know you got a 2-star review on a 5-star scale? No. Human nature is complex; quantifying a person’s worth is not simple and therefore the app would not provide helpful insight to HR folks.

Positive-only reviews lack insight: If what Cordray says is true and the app will be for positive-only reviews, I can at least applaud her effort to spread some love in the world. However, HR people researching potential hires won’t likely visit the site because they’ll already know what they are going to find: only shining reviews.

Credibility of reviewers: The information presented on Peeple will be only as good as the source. I doubt HR experts will put a lot of trust in the people creating these posts. Honestly, how do we know those posts aren’t simply manipulated by the candidate in question, or that candidate’s close and helpful friends?

Meaning of zero reviews: If Peeple really takes off (which we are doubting after this PR crisis), what does it mean if someone doesn’t have any reviews? Does that mean HR should assume that this person is generally thought of poorly? There’s too much uncertainty to make this assumption, or any assumption for that matter.

Legality issues: While the concept of Peeple is still very new, HR experts are wondering about the legal implications of assessing a candidate based on a website like this. Would using Peeple be considered any different from assessing an applicant based on a reference? The answer is vague, so the legal risk is too great.

Peeple appears to be the unavoidable result of our increasing dependence on all things social and online. However, for HR and recruiting gurus, it’s simply not useful.

What do you guys think of Peeple? Yea or nay?