BU Today

Campus Life + In the World

YouSpeak: RateBU.com

New website sparks controversy

49

Watch this video on YouTube

Much controversy, on and off campus, has been generated by a new website, created by a BU student, that allows users with a BU e-mail address to upload photos of BU women, whose looks can then be rated by other users.The site, RateBU.com, has been condemned as sexist and demeaning and has raised serious concerns about privacy. It has also garnered attention from national news media.

So this week, “YouSpeak” asks: “What is your reaction to RateBU.com?”

YouSpeak” appears each Monday.

If you have a suggestion for a question we should ask, post it in the comments section below.

Joseph Chan can be reached at joechan@bu.edu. Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu. John O’Rourke can be reached at orourkej@bu.edu.

49 Comments

49 Comments on YouSpeak: RateBU.com

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 12:30 am

    what’s with the creepy music

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 1:52 am

    The eery music is just ridiculous.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 5:24 am

    I really hate this website, it is fundamentally sexist and serves no use but to either excite or insult women on the most superficial level. It also undermines the value of the academic community, reducing the purpose of women at the university to their sex-object value rather than their minds, the whole reason to be at BU.

  • Sasha on 12.13.2010 at 5:49 am

    it keeps getting bigger

    I remember a long time ago there was an app on facebook that was just like it, and no one seemed to care. You rated your friends on various things, including attractiveness.. I don’t remember anyone objecting to that.

    I suppose I can see why people might be surprised or maybe slightly irked by having their image on RateBU but it’s not like the site is putting anything up that you didn’t already have up on the internet. So there’s a photograph of you with your breasts hanging out and you have a handle of vodka in your hand. It doesn’t matter that your profile on facebook is set to private– why did you even put that on the internet is you are so concerned about conserving a particular image? and RateBU doesn’t set out to ruin your reputation, it’s just a bunch of images with first names. It doesn’t slander you.

    Yes I’m a girl, by the way. And I am on RateBU, and I have no idea who uploaded my photo. But I don’t really care either.
    I’m probably one of the few who thinks this whole thing is just blown way out of proportion though.

    I am more interested in whoever composed the dark and ominous tones in the background of this video.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 5:57 am

    Why is my picture up there? Im good looking… haha

  • Stephen on 12.13.2010 at 6:06 am

    RateBU.com

    The site is offensive, but on the issue of whether or not it should exist, we should consider not only ethical issues, but legal as well. If a student is placed on the site without permission, is then harrassed or bullied due to the posting, then the creator and the innapropriate actor may be subject to criminal or civil legal actions.
    JD ’87
    MCJ ’11

  • Jake on 12.13.2010 at 6:23 am

    Eh.

    I don’t feel like the privacy issue concerns me as much as the fact that it feels like RateBU objectifies people. It’s a site where people spend their time judging people solely on their physical appearance, and I feel like we get enough of that in our real lives without RateBU putting people into that mindset even more. I think people are better off going out and actually meeting people and experiencing their personalities, behaviors, and stories than sitting there and judging people on something as fleeting and shallow as a single picture.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 7:03 am

    What is the big deal?

    People are complaining about this site being sexist and getting national media attention, Why? When these sites exist more than 10 – 15 years ago by the name of HotOrNot, or on any social media site such as facebook or myspace. Why does RateBU getting so much attention? The fact that it is exculsive to BU, just like when facebook started. We all know the story of facebook and how it will eventually turn into another myspace, RateBU will become the next HotOrNot. I don’t see any problem here, and I believe things are being blown out of proportion.

  • Michael Zank on 12.13.2010 at 7:32 am

    re: internet and privacy

    I don’t think we should give up on internet privacy, especially when it comes to sensitive personal information. In the age of wiki-leaks we should realize that not event governments are safe from anyone intent on harvesting sensitive information. — Perhaps we should have a required workshop for students, staff, and faculty that looks at the implications of all this? Woe to us if every aspect of our lives, including our exact whereabouts at any given moment, becomes available to corporations or governments.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 9:02 am

    no comments?

    are there really no comments yet about this?

    didnt facebook have the exact same thing except even more? like who is funnier? or who would u spend the day with?

    kinda just seems like a copy of that…

    can only tagged pictures be posted?

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 9:33 am

    Can’t claim it as sexist anymore. week after launch, he put guys up. its invasive and demeaning to both genders, but sexist, no.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 10:06 am

    lighten up

    People are being wayyy too sensitive about this. People are constantly judging you whether it’s publicly or privately, good or bad. Does it matter that much if it’s made public? The site does a nice thing in only posting the top 25, so that if you happen to make the top 25, it’s a thrill and a huge compliment. If you don’t, you have no idea where you are and have no way of finding out. So, you could be number 26, or number 900, but there’s nothing there to actually hurt your feelings. It’s a different matter if you are mad that your picture got up there, that a friend put it up with out permission, or a boyfriend. That’s more an issue of trusting your fellow peers, not the site. And you can’t expect the site to track a person down to be able to use their photo. If it’s a facebook photo, then anyone in the world could potentially take it and set it as their desktop background. I think people need to step back and see that it’s just a website, you can’t limit the free expression of the creator, and you can’t really stop people from using it. All you can do it stop using it if you don’t like and and don’t talk about it more. The more you discuss, the more people who don’t already know about it will go to the website and use it. But ratebu.com isn;t a new thing. Every time you walk down Comm Ave. there’s a whole slew of people who will be waiting to pick apart your outfit or hair or makeup. And that’s a natural thing, people are constantly making judgments about everything and that’s okay.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 10:25 am

    You’d think somebody would have thought this up sooner. Anyway, this website is telling most of us what we already know: we are not the hottest person out there. We mentally do what this website does everyday; we look, compare, and judge people based on how good looking they are. I think we can all agree on that. So why is it that we get offended when a website advertises what we already know about ourselves and each other? We hate that its right. We hate how we AREN’T as hot. We hate how we need to come up with excuses for ourselves when we don’t make the cut. Its our insecuriti­es manifested in a website. The worst for which this site can be blamed is for telling us a truth that we don’t want to hear. Here’s some advice: you should stop criticizin­g the website and find the reason that you care in the first place.

    On another note, I see the argument against the site in terms of privacy but I don’t agree with it. Anything on ratebu comes from facebook, so you’ve relinquished the rights to pictures of yourself at some point along the way. Pictures of you never show up on the website unless you make the top 25 or you are being compared, so it can’t be that offensive if all people are doing is comparing you to another person or praising you for being a top 25. It would become truly offensive though if the site had the worst 25, but it doesn’t. Sure, it’s not a productive use of people’s time, but Facebook isn’t either.

    All in all, the website is a harmless way to waste your time. Maybe the best thing that this website has to offer is the “contraversy” if you can call it that. Personally, I think that people should stop complaining about it and suck it up. We live in a day and age where everyone instantly bans anything marginally offensive, and everyone’s feelings need to be taken into account. The website is, above all, honest. It isn’t responsible for pampering our fragile emotions. The moral of this story: suck it up.

  • In Defense of the Genre on 12.13.2010 at 10:28 am

    You’d think somebody would have thought this up sooner. Anyway, this website is telling most of us what we already know: we are not the hottest person out there. We mentally do what this website does everyday; we look, compare, and judge people based on how good looking they are. I think we can all agree on that. So why is it that we get offended when a website advertises what we already know about ourselves and each other? We hate that its right. We hate how we AREN’T as hot. We hate how we need to come up with excuses for ourselves when we don’t make the cut. Its our insecuriti­es manifested in a website. The worst for which this site can be blamed is for telling us a truth that we don’t want to hear. Here’s some advice: you should stop criticizin­g the website and find the reason that you care in the first place.

    On another note, I see the argument against the site in terms of privacy but I don’t agree with it. Anything on ratebu comes from facebook, so you’ve relinquished the rights to pictures of yourself at some point along the way. Pictures of you never show up on the website unless you make the top 25 or you are being compared, so it can’t be that offensive if all people are doing is comparing you to another person or praising you for being a top 25. It would become truly offensive though if the site had the worst 25, but it doesn’t. Sure, it’s not a productive use of people’s time, but Facebook isn’t either.

    All in all, the website is a harmless way to waste your time. Maybe the best thing that this website has to offer is the “contraversy” if you can call it that. Personally, I think that people should stop complaining about it and suck it up. We live in a day and age where everyone instantly bans anything marginally offensive, and everyone’s feelings need to be taken into account. The website is, above all, honest. It isn’t responsible for pampering our fragile emotions. The moral of this story: suck it up.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 10:30 am

    Biased?

    Pretty sure this video is completely biased, and doesn’t review a controversy between two sides of an argument. Just negative music, with about 6 people talking about how terrible the website is, and one person who somewhat defends the website. Whoever is in-charge of producing this video should learn to get both sides of the story. Fail reporter.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 10:30 am

    Biased?

    Pretty sure this video is completely biased, and doesn’t review a controversy between two sides of an argument. Just negative music, with about 6 people talking about how terrible the website is, and one person who somewhat defends the website. Whoever is in-charge of producing this video should learn to get both sides of the story. Fail reporter.

  • Something to Hope For on 12.13.2010 at 10:48 am

    Something to Hope For

    For all the reasons listed below, I hope this goes national just to annoy every feminist and spoilsport from here to Santa Barbara, CA.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 11:01 am

    It’s unoriginal, sexist and embarrassing for the school. And putting guys up under the heading “Who has the nicer personality,” which Doody originally did, is ridiculous and supersedes how sexist it originally was in the first place, before the men went up. I doubt that Justin Doody meant to hurt anyone–although the whole thing is pretty sophomoric and seems like the kind of thing you would do if you didn’t actually date a lot of women but wanted access to their pictures–it’s offending women who are on there. Take it down. This totally does against any perception that guys and girls are seen equally at BU.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 11:10 am

    BU is filled with oversensitive liberals. I like whoever pointed out that the same thing existed on facebook and no one cared. GET OVER IT

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 11:28 am

    Totally unacceptable

    This website is completely unacceptable in a university setting. What you are doing is degrading college-educated women to the level of Playboy sex objects. And in Playboy at least women CHOOSE to be there. The BU website is without consent and as such it is the exact same thing as sexual harassment in the workplace. It is sexual harassment on campus.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 11:38 am

    Unicorn Picture

    Why did they take the unicorn picture down?! It was the best mockery of the site yet

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 12:46 pm

    RateBU.com degrades us all

    Why is anyone okay with this website? The truth is it is sexist despite the fact that there are pictures of men on the website too. If the judgement is solely based on appearance it will always be the women who get the worst of it. Here are some basic facts about the genders… women want to be beautiful, men want to be dependable. Personal attractiveness doesn’t matter half as much to men, which is possibly something as a sex they’ll never understand. Most women would be offended to find out that they are uglier than 900 girls on campus. True, they can’t find that out, but everytime somebody chooses between two girls, it feels just as demeaning and hurtful. Sure, you could say that we need to grow thicker skins, but the truth is that the website IS degrading. This is not a matter of internet privacy and public pictures, it is much deeper than that. This is a moral issue. Perhaps we are judged everyday walking down the street, but it is NOT okay, and by creating a website that allows us to judge others anytime we make it seem okay. You are fooling yourselves if you think on any level that people are over reacting. By creating this website (and other’s like it), society is taking a step backward. This website IS a big deal, it is demeaning and makes those weak-minded individuals think it is okay to judge someone (in looks, but the truth is judging anyone in any way is unacceptable because more often than not you’re no better than the person you judge). Let’s stop this immaturity and rise to the moral standard we are all capable of achieving because the truth is that this website is not only degrading to the women pictured on it, but to all the users who lower themselves to such moral substandards.

  • Michael on 12.13.2010 at 1:16 pm

    Way to go

    To the producers of this video, could you guys have failed any harder? Way to skew the whole subject you were covering by playing ominous music over a bunch of freshman girls crying about their privacy. If you ever want to be taken seriously (and I know this is BU TODAY! we’re talking about here) you have to skip using cheap tricks and biased interviewing just to make for an even greater scoop. You really blew the lid off this story though, we are all going to write to our internet congressmen right now.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 1:53 pm

    Facemash, anyone?

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 2:03 pm

    Bias much?

    The obvious bias against RateBU.com is apparent in this video. The first commenter noticed this as well, but whoever made this video didn’t get a single person who supported this video but chose many people against, one person who was eh, and one person simply talking (neutrally!) about the legality of the website. Whoever made this video should take notes on 60 minutes and how little bias there is in that show. If you’re trying to do an informative piece, don’t do one with bias or at least TRY to make the bias less obvious.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 2:07 pm

    Extremely biased

    I have to agree that this video is biased. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending RateBu.com. I feel the same way about it as the girls in the video… BUT everyone interviewed in this video has the exact same opinion, with the exception of one man who is intentionally portrayed as the stereotypical, sexist “dumb jock.” I’d like to see a video with an actual second side to the story; not necessarily people defending the site, but some people who aren’t in an uproar about it.

  • A confused and angry student on 12.13.2010 at 2:07 pm

    I am sorry, regardless of the biased nature of this video, this website is against the law because it violates privacy codes, I don’t care what they have to say to defend themselves, it’s completely wrong on a personal level and a legal level.

    On a personal level, it is debasing and degrading to women, but on a legal level it is against the law, you cannot upload and display images of people without their consent.

  • Paulbloneous on 12.13.2010 at 2:13 pm

    The music in this makes this out to be so much worse than the issue is. If we treat this website like it should be treated, (as just a fad that will disappear) then it will go away. Unfortunately my fellow BU students feel it is necessary to repeat the outcry that they saw in the Social Network, leaving me to believe that like the website, we BU students are not original.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 2:22 pm

    The only issue I have with RateBU is your picture being submitted without your consent. If they can check whether or not you are a BU student (and they check every submission before posting them), they can take 2 minutes to ask for your permission. If they don’t do that, they should at least have a contact form where you can request your picture be removed.

    Is this superficial? Absolutely. Does this give men an outlet to objectify women? Yes, but, and I say this as a female BU student, just as many females will objectify and judge each other. Have you ever seen Mean Girls? That still happens, even now that we’re 18-22 years old. And it should be noted that they’ve since added a men’s section.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 2:28 pm

    Before even addressing the issue, I just want to point out that this is absolutely awful reporting. You interviewed six people and then had five people for one side and let one kid hangout to dry on the other side. And as if that wasn’t biased enough, you have that awful ominous music in the background to only further add to the bias. The time aspect of your reporting is also awful too because you waited so long to put this out after getting the interviews that you don’t even address the fact that there is now a guy’s page up. You didn’t get the opinion of anyone who is actually on the site. There is absolutely zero balance to this piece. Regardless of whether the site is ethical or not, you did a horrible job covering the issue.

  • Phoebe on 12.13.2010 at 2:34 pm

    “It also undermines the value of the academic community, reducing the purpose of women at the university to their sex-object value rather than their minds, the whole reason to be at BU. ”

    ABSOLUTELY agree. Do we really have nothing better to do? Get off this ridiculous website and read a book or something. As a BU student, I’m embarrassed.

  • Cynthia Dacey on 12.13.2010 at 3:45 pm

    LAME – L-A-M-E….and hasn’t this kind of website already been seen before…it’s not new, it’s not cool it’s LAAAAAAAMEE!

  • Kathleen on 12.13.2010 at 4:24 pm

    I was initially offended when I first heard about the website, but I’m more conflicted now that I’ve actually registered with RateBU.com and taken a look myself at how it works.

    I’m no longer so much offended at the concept itself, as they only publicly rank the Top 25 — To me, that’s pretty similar to the “hot” rankings on RateMyProfessors.com, or People’s Sexiest Men Alive. The potential for hurt feelings lowers when they only show you the Top 10, as opposed to the Bottom 25, or a ranking of everyone at BU. Besides, I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t sometimes pick out the best-looking guy in a group, consciously or not.

    The main problems in my eyes are, as mentioned in the video, the fact that 1) you can upload pictures of other people without their permission, whereas I think it would be fairly simple on Doody’s part to at least allow only one picture uploaded per account at a time and suggest people only upload their own photo — of course, this isn’t foolproof, but I think it would help cut down the random uploading of all your Facebook friends; and 2) the fact that, unlike RateMyProfessors.com and People’s Sexiest Men Alive, we’re a community. We need to be able to trust each other not to upload each other’s pictures without permission, and cutting off that avenue, while not necessarily solving the problem in its entirety, would at least make the campus community a more trustworthy place — I have lots of friends who feel betrayed upon finding their pictures on the website. They wouldn’t necessarily tell all their life secrets to their Facebook friends, but I think the general expectation for most people is that their Facebook friends won’t upload images of them onto rating websites. What’s more is that BU has kind of a sleazy image to begin with. RateBU.com doesn’t make us look any classier, and especially at a private university, that image matters.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 4:51 pm

    to everyone claiming that it’s not a big deal because it’s a norm: just because something is a norm does not make it right. Positive change occurs in society when we see a norm, recognize it is wrong, and move to change it.

    Anyway, I’m kind of disappointed that BU Today did not get on this until now. The Quad broke the story more than a WEEK ago, and it’s been one of the most controversial issues on campus this year.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 5:53 pm

    people are making such a big deal over this. like grow up, people judge you all the time, its not like you can actually see your rating unless you’re in the top 25. This stuff happens, there is no reason to be offended and if you are you can email him to get your picture removed.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 5:54 pm

    and also, it doesnt violate privacy codes. once you post facebook pictures, those pictures become public domain.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 6:33 pm

    “It also undermines the value of the academic community, reducing the purpose of women at the university to their sex-object value rather than their minds, the whole reason to be at BU. ” ABSOLUTELY agree. Do we really have nothing better to do? Get off this ridiculous website and read a book or something. As a BU student, I’m embarrassed.”

    ^this post is ridiculous. grow up. MERICA! women are only ‘objects’ after all..

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 7:00 pm

    To the author of RateBU.com degrades us all

    I find it ridiculous that you complain about sexism and then say that as a sex, men will never understand where your coming from. Seems a little hypocritical

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 7:31 pm

    The site does objectify women, but watch out for yourself. Read the Facebook privacy settings, he’s not doing anything illegal. When you post something on Facebook, IT NO LONGER BELONGS TO YOU. If you don’t want people seeing sleazy pictures of you, don’t post them.

  • Suzanne (Australia) on 12.13.2010 at 10:06 pm

    Perspective from aborad.

    I have just read about this website in a local Australian newspaper. My perception is that students from Boston University must be a very shallow bunch of tossers indeed. If this is where their preoccupations lie, then woe to any future employer. Objectifying people and, worse, placing them on a site without their permission is moronic and puerile. Participating in the voting process is just cretinous and creepy. It certainly says something about American values.

  • Anonymous on 12.13.2010 at 11:11 pm

    well my only problem is that BU Today just gave this website a huge amount of publicity. But whatever, I have no problem with RateBU. Just sucks that its the end of the semester.. I should be studying but here I am mindlessly clicking at pictures. o_o

  • Anonymous on 12.14.2010 at 1:46 am

    Offensive? Not really...

    As a female, I somewhat understand the controversy surround this site, but a lot of it is ridiculous. Many of the girls in the top 25 are photographed scantily-clad in “sexy” poses, some of them visibly intoxicated. If you’re drawing that kind of attention to yourself by (a) taking those photos, and (b) posting them on Facebook for many people to access, you are obviously expecting people to take notice. The fact that this website facilities the ease of which people judge your photos is all but irrelevant when you think about it that way. The rest of the girls–the ones who look, well, wholesome–may have reason to complain, but the others? Not so much.

  • Anonymous on 12.14.2010 at 12:56 pm

    Seeing this (at least a week ago) made me feel old because I remembered blowing hours on HotorNot.com. Geez, that must have been close to ten years ago. Sheesh.

  • Anonymous on 12.14.2010 at 2:15 pm

    "Rating" Girls Online - Get a Life!

    http://teenspeak.org/2010/12/13/rating-girls-online-get-a-life/

    I feel like some college students have so much extra time on their hands, and I don’t understand why. I mean, I consider myself to be a really busy young woman that needs to find time for everything from classes and homework, my job, to finding time to spend with my boyfriend, family, and friends. I’m a strong believer that if you really want to do something you’ll find time for it, but what I’m not sure about is how some college students actually find the time to do meaningless and frivolous things.

    I’m a sophomore at Boston University, and I feel like I always have a 40-page reading assignment, 5+ page papers due, or an exam to study for. So, how is it that another Boston University student has the time to create a pointless website? I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but ratebu.com is a website where BU students get to vote on which girl looks “hotter” (two pictures are posted side by side). Some of these girls don’t even know that they are on the site because they don’t have to give their consent. All you have to do to get someone’s picture on the website is to type in their name and submit a picture, which you can easily get from Facebook.

    I think that this is mean, because obviously if you have a low ranking you’re going to feel bad and it will hurt your self-esteem. I also find it to be unfair because the option of whether or not to be featured on the site really isn’t yours. I think that the Boston University student who started this website needs to get it together, and instead of looking for girls on Facebook he should be studying for finals.

    Coming up with a solution to this issue can be really hard, especially because the person submitting your photo may or may not be your friend on Facebook. There probably isn’t a way to stop your Facebook friends from submitting your picture, but maybe you can just tell them not to and you will be okay. You can prevent people who are not your friend on Facebook from getting a hold of your picture by setting your profile and photos to private and changing your profile picture to an image of something else. It might not work, but it’s a suggestion. What do you think are some other ways to prevent this from happening?

    On that note, good luck on your finals!

  • Anonymous on 12.15.2010 at 12:49 pm

    Twenty years from now ...

    Twenty years from now some of these women will tell their friends and family, “I was a top 25 hottie on RateBU.com.” 50+ women today who have a picture of themselves as young and sexy usually TREASURE that old photo – and a lot of them post that old photo on FaceBook. Whatever people feel today, I predict twenty years from now the memory will be positive or totally forgotten.

  • Anonymous on 12.15.2010 at 2:08 pm

    Locker-room talk

    This website is akin to locker-room talk amongst boys and as such it should stay there: in the locker room. It is not appropriate for public display and especially not at a reputable university such as BU. And putting up pictures of guys is not the same thing – women don’t care as much about guys’ looks as guys care about women’s. Now if girls made a website rating BU guys in accordance with their penis size, that would be more equivalent – and haha, very funny too!! As long as BU allows this site to remain up, I say girls should get together and make a penis ranking website :)

  • Anonymous on 12.15.2010 at 7:15 pm

    OMG

    Oh my God… college guys judge college girls on their looks? When did this start happening?

    People need to get over themselves. It’s really not a big deal.

  • shhhhhhh on 12.28.2010 at 2:40 am

    horribbbble

    It is stupid. It is does not worth words.

  • Anonymous on 01.20.2011 at 2:59 pm

    Twenty years ago, it was called it the dog book…

    It wasn’t online, but it was the same thing.

Post Your Comment

(never shown)