October 1, 2015

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Peeple: A Clear-Cut Case for When Developers Should Say "No"

Two things happening simultaneously this morning: firstly, I'm trying to get into Python, but strapped for time at the moment, so getting up an hour earlier to go through tutorials. And keeping one eye on this whole Peeple debacle that's exploded on to Twitter.

Putting Python aside - except to say, expect to see some popping up on the blog soon, so the Python gurus among you can have a good laugh - I'm genuinely gobsmacked that two actual human beings dreamed up the idea for Peeple, and that other human beings gave them actual real money to make it happen.

If you haven't heard already, Peeple is arguably either the dumbest, the cruellest or the most cynical start-up idea in Web history. It allows people to rate other people, and leave reviews about them, like they were restaurants or hotels.

Apparently, if you have someone's cell phone number, you can create a profile for them, and there's no way for that person to opt out yet. It's got "dystopia" written all over it.

But what concerns me even more than the fact that human beings came up with the idea, and human beings funded its execution, is that human beings wrote the code that makes it work.

This, to me, has to be one of those situations where developers should just say "no". No, I am not going to create software that turns people into reviewable, rate-able products. Teh Internets are bad enough without bringing such a blindingly obviously abuse-able system into being.

Given the backlash, and the extremely strong and almost universal revulsion that's being expressed on social and in traditional media this morning, one can only hope that purveyors of apps like Apple, Google and Microsoft see sense (or at least see a PR nightmare looming) and refuse to allow Peeple to distribute their app through the official channels. It's so utterly toxic, with such massive potential to cause harm to vulnerable people, that it truly beggars belief that it even exists at all in any shippable form.

And it really, really bugs me that software developers enabled this insanity. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. I'll wager it won't be going on their CVs.

Posted 3 weeks, 1 day ago on October 1, 2015