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'Peeple,' the human-rating app, gets little love

Everyone from executives to celebrities weighed in this week on an app that allows users to rate others' professional, romantic or personal attributes but gives those targeted limited power to remove negative posts.

After The Washington Post dubbed it the "the terrifying 'Yelp for people,' " the soon-to-be released app Peeple became the latest battleground between advocates of free speech and those concerned about cyberbullying.

Users can assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to anyone they know, and you can't opt out once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, The Post reported. Negative reviews are removed only if they are reported for violating the terms of the site, according to The Post.

The idea of rating another human sparked some high-profile outrage. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and supermodel Chrissy Teigen took to verified Twitter accounts to criticize the app. And a change.org petition against the app has amassed more than 3,000 signatures.



"Blurring professional, personal and romantic reviews for anyone to see is preposterous, even if it's comprised of only glowing reviews," marketing analyst Brian Solis of Altimeter Group wrote in a LinkedIn post. "The lack of context and more so consent is senseless and more so irresponsible."

The deluge of feedback was so intense it crashed the app's website, forthepeeple.com, according to the app's Facebook page.

Peeple co-founder Julia Cordray said the app aims to create "online village of positivity where you can go on and be rated by the people that know you."

"There are a lot of terms and conditions that need to be followed so that all users do have that positive experience," Cordray in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell" Friday.

She said the company was the target of threats and bullying. "What's been fascinating is everything that everybody is so scared of they are currently doing to us," Cordray said.

Peeple also took to Facebook to share positive responses they said they had received.

"You have a very interesting concept here. ... As a business professional, I could see leveraging this to enhance my personal brand," said one poster.

The company said it heard the negative feedback "loud and clear," including concerns about anonymous posters, and people requesting the option to opt out.

"What will help is the voices and the beta testers. We're listening to you. And you need to be respectful just like we are being respectful of you and listening," Cordray told CNBC.

The app is far from the first to elicit a firestorm about the line between free speech and hate speech online.

The app Lulu, which allowed women to rate men, garnered a media blitz in 2013. Efforts to crack down on vile content by Reddit's former CEO Ellen Pao led to widespread calls from users for her to be ousted. Even the professional muckrakers at Gawker Media debated whether they had gone too far earlier this year in revealing a media executive's personal misadventures.