Black Mirror, a popular Netflix show debuted their 3rd season with a haunting episode depicting a future where people rate each other based on a 5-star system. In the episode, rankings in the system affected people’s ability to travel, make transactions, and get healthcare. Those with lower rankings were relegated to a lower position in society, constantly trying to earn higher ratings from those at the higher-end of the spectrum. This involved hiding behind a constantly projected image, carefully crafted to earn ratings and ingratiate those that did.
Black Mirror, Season 3 Episode 1, “Nosedive”
Some may recall Peeple, an app that allowed users to rate each other on a 5-star system and leave reviews. Out of the gate, Peeple received unbridled criticism, leading to the final version being a tamer, neutered version of the initial proposal, allowing users to control what the public could see on their profiles and thus creating yet another curated online profile for its users.
Currently, we have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a long list of social media profiles, with many different copies of our digital selves floating around in cyberspace. Those you interact with have tweaked their profiles, pictures and posts to control perceptions. Businesses vie for your attention, using your personal preferences, interests and hobbies to create advertising that appeals to your psyche. What happens when these profiles go from being disjointed digital replicas and become a part of your identity?
In the constant anonymity of cyberspace, there is a component that has been lost along the way: honesty. What lies behind the Instagram pictures of foreign places, the posts about personal successes, and the constant self-censorship? A new social media platform has entered the fray, hoping to make our digital selves a part of our real-world identities.
Completed.com will connect all of your social media profiles in one place, tying in multiple digital personas to create a new, more cohesive digital profile. As an added layer, Completed.com will incorporate Yelp-style anonymous reviews, where individuals can rate and review each other on different personality aspects.
Unlike Peeple, the reviews will not be curated by the user and will not be removable. In fact, the only way Completed will remove a review is by court order. The reviews will also be more widely available than Peeple reviews. Where Peeple was app-based, Completed will be web-based and will make reviews more readily available through Google, Bing, and other popular search engines.
According to their website, “[Completed.com’s] mission is to create the most comprehensive profile of an individual on the internet. A Completed Profile will show the full person including constructive feedback that identifies their strengths and weaknesses, helping people improve themselves while at the same time opening the door to opportunities for other people to engage with them in a positive manner.”
This has some interesting implications for our daily interactions, and potentially provides a level of accountability and transparency that, for many of us, has been missing in our modern lives.
For example, let’s say you need help with your financial investments. With LinkedIn, you can find a well-rated financial advisor with hundreds of endorsements. But how do you know the endorsements are real? A smart con artist could curate their profile with endorsements, and positive feedback and a quick study of their profile would never reveal the victims that they’ve conned.
Or, maybe you had a bad experience at your favorite restaurant. Now, you can complain about poor service by a specific staff member without damaging the reputation of the establishment. Or find honest peer-written reviews about a particular person before meeting them. People have the ability to create profiles for you when leaving a review, and you can claim your profile by going through the Completed.com verification process, similar to verifying a Twitter profile.
The site is set up like Yelp and GlassDoor, allowing anyone to leave an anonymous review. Rather than being a “hit-piece” style site, reviews appear to be balanced, enabling users to give positive feedback, as well as “constructive criticism”.
Completed.com reviews go through a moderating process before they are published. The section for “constructive criticism” is appropriately labeled. In fact, the site mandates that any negative feedback allows the person being reviewed to improve some aspect of their behavior, rather than just tearing them a new one. Reviewers can also “verify” their accounts, and to prevent abuse, more weight will be given to “verified” reviews than those from unverified accounts.
Black Mirror, Season 3 Episode 1, “Nosedive”
Those that sign up for the site are essentially signing a social contract. Negative behaviors and habits have social consequences, and those on the site are committed to continual improvement as individuals and as a community.
This level of accountability changes, not just digital interaction, but real-world interaction as well. Imagine if everyone you interact with each day had the ability to honestly review that interaction? From your boss to the kid at the checkout counter, each interaction potentially cataloged for the world to see. How would that change your daily life?
Some might draw parallels between Completed.com and other similar profile-based sites, such as Peeple – a similar site, with the tagline “Yelp for people.” Although the concept is similar, Completed.com differs in that reviews left by others do not have to be approved by the individual in question, making for a more honest overall profile of the person. In addition, Peeple does not vet the reviews, leaving the door open for abuse and cyber-bullying.
The review process implemented by Peeple used to allow those being reviewed up to two days to dispute the review, but this has now been changed so that users can select which reviews are shown on their profile. This leaves room for dishonesty and censorship, relegating Peeple to use as a vanity tool, in which users display their positive reviews while hiding negative feedback.
In addition to moderating reviews for constructive criticism, allowing users to resolve negative behaviors, poor reviews can be augmented with better, more positive reviews. While the original review cannot be removed, the original reviewer can later leave a new, more positive review, creating a blended review that improves the user’s profile.
The profile site helps users avoid escalating an issue by implementing an 180-day window before users can leave a review for the person that reviewed them, giving both parties a “cool-down period” to resolve any issues between themselves, vastly reducing the potential for a retaliatory review.
Completed.com, beyond influencing real-world and digital interactions, is hoping to influence the business world as well. Employers will now be able to access a more complete profile for potential employees, revealing not only their qualifications but giving an honest overview of their short-comings and ability to adapt and improve.
Beyond the review feature, Completed.com allows users to add additional layers of information from their connected social media accounts, outlining their education, work history, and personal accomplishments.
Completed’s model is not without flaws. There is still enormous potential for abuse. The very act of rating people like a product off of Amazon is problematic, if not degrading. The moderation of reviews is a vague failsafe that seems in itself to have potential for abuse. How transparent will Completed be about review approvals? In the case of widespread adoption, Completed will potentially have power to control not just the online social narrative, but the real world social status of its users. Black Mirror, while science fiction, offers a terrifying picture that doesn’t seem that far-fetched.
With the aim of providing the most comprehensive profile of an individual on the internet, Completed.com, now open for free signups, is seeking to change social interactions both on and off-line, and offer a way for people to receive honest assessments and improve themselves. Whether these goals will be accomplished or create a world like the one depicted in Black Mirror remains to be seen.