Every once in a while a Web site comes out that has the potential to change our online (and offline) lives as we know it. Craigslist altered the way we do business with each other and Facebook changed the very meaning of the word “friend.” Now, Unvarnished is here to help us destroy our reputations.
Unvarnished (which is located at GetUnvarnished.com) only debuted in beta last week, but it is already generating a lot of buzz and paranoia on the Internet. As TechCrunch describes it, Unvarnished is basically a cross between Yelp and LinkedIn. The site allows users to post reviews of people they know, much in the same way that Yelp allow users to review restaurants. On top of that, users can actually create profiles for peers who are not yet on the site, so you can literally make and break a coworker.
Essentially, the goal of the site is to create a vast database where employers can go beyond your resume and learn what your peers think of you. Of course, the obvious problem is that this site may be able to destroy your reputation faster than a drunk photo on Facebook. Lawyers have deemed the site a “litigation nightmare,” and others have called it a blatant violation of privacy.
Peter Kazanjy, the founder of the site, told TechCrunch that users will have the option to “claim” profiles that have been created for them by other users, and to update it. However, users will not be able to eliminate bad reviews and even more astoundingly, they won’t be able to take their profile down. “If we did that, everyone would take their profile down,” Kazanjy said. It’s probably a bad sign when the creator of a site recognizes that he has to hold the audience captive from the outset.
Still, the site has generated some mildly positive feedback from at least one Internet luminary. Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, wrote in The San Francisco Chronicle that this site “might work, given what I’ve seen in fifteen years of customer service. People do look out for each other. It’ll probably depend on having enough people looking at reviews, to overwhelm any disinformation.”
Yes, it might work, but the real question is do we need it?
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