In an age where the internet acts as a source of information that dominates our lives, everyone has become a critic. Reviews of restaurants, movies and businesses are no longer limited to professional critics, and while this is generally positive for consumers, the situation becomes a much more complex when it comes to people-rating.
Through websites and apps such as Peeple and Rate My Teachers, students, friends and coworkers can now rate humans the same way they would rate a new phone case on Amazon.
While these apps and websites do bring certain benefits as they provide potentially important information for students or coworkers to know about, they have faced widespread fear and and disapproval. These services have a huge potential for abuse, and for this reason we must accept the necessary limitations and sense of responsibility that must accompany such apps.
First off, however, we must acknowledge the utility of these services. Apps such as Yelp have fundamentally changed the way in which businesses and customers interact, as customers now have the ability to stand up to unethical businesses.
However, we cannot discount the very real instances of libel and defamation. All it takes is any one person to post fake complaints and potentially ruin a person’s reputation, decreasing their potential to get hired for jobs or get accepted into universities.
Due to criticism about the potential for anonymous people to ruins others’ reputations, the Peeple application’s function was recently changed from allowing any form of reviews to only positive ones, which the subject must accept. While this might solve the issue of libel, it defeats the original purpose of the app.
Although Peeple might have failed to realize its original goal of acting as the human version of Yelp, a popular business rating app, websites such as Rate My Teachers have found the acceptance that Peeple could not. Marshall alone has 226 teachers rated with a total of 1,685 ratings.
Admittedly, Rate My Teachers can be helpful for those who want to scope out their teachers. However, as the reviews are ultimately based on other students’ experiences rather than that of the individual viewer, they will inevitably not hold true for every teacher or every student.
One clear lesson in history is that it is very difficult to halt the progress of technology. Therefore, as people-rating services continue to pop up, we should not focus on trying to stop them, but rather on finding new ways to embrace their functions while protecting people from libel.