Website asks users to rate female students on attractiveness

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When a friend told Alexis Reeder her photo was on a website that was rating female students on their attractiveness she was shocked and confused.

“I immediately went to the website to find many pictures of girls I didn’t even know and then I became angry and I just kept thinking, ‘why would anyone do this?’,” she said.

Reeder is one of many women who had their photos taken from Facebook and Instagram accounts without their permission and posted to a website created by an anonymous developer.

The website, rateusi.com, asked users to choose between two female students based upon who they found more attractive.

The junior social work major said she felt she needed to post on the USI Class of 2021 because  women on campus needed to know their photos might be on the site as well.

“I was very upset especially after all the sexual assaults and I just thought ‘wow, more?’ That’s the last thing that women at USI needed,” she said. “We have already felt unsafe and not protected against by our school, so I was really hurt and disappointed when finding the website.”

Reeder said after seeing a lot of female students commenting on her post and standing up for one another, she felt empowered.

Her post has over 50 comments from various women showing support and tagging others if they saw their photo.

Like many of the commenters, Reeder said she reported the Instagram page immediately,

“I just thought it was upsetting that it was International Women’s Day, a day that we are supposed to be empowering women,” she said. “And here someone is with a website, essentially degrading women.”

Zoie Hunter said although she didn’t see a photo of herself on the site, she saw people she knew on there and knew “it was not okay.”

“Even if the people were not people that I knew it’s very obvious that these girls did not give their consent to this kind of thing,” the sophomore theater major said. “I knew immediately that it needed to be taken down.”

Hunter said she never thought she would see this happen at USI.

“Who would expect that their photos were being ripped and used without any consent. Especially since some photos had children in them, people’s siblings and kids,” she said. “It was disgusting.”

She said due to it rising in popularity on International Women’s Day it got a lot of women fired up.

“This is our day,” Hunter said. “We’ve fought hard, and we were still given a reminder that there are still people that only care about what we look like, not how far we’ve come.”

University spokesman Ben Luttrull said the university has been made aware of the situation and there is not a formal policy or procedure in place to deal with these situations unless they break student code of conduct.

The anonymous developer also made an Instagram account that stated people could message them to add or remove their image.

The website and instagram account have been taken down.

The rateUSI instagram account released a statement this evening. Here is that statement in full.”

To the USI community,

The last 24 hours have been hectic. I’d like to address my recent project, rateUSI.

The rateUSI website was created as a two part attempt to display a double standard. Phase 1 was the rating of USI women, and was intended to be followed by Phase 2, where we would rate USI men.

I’m a sociology major with a programming hobby and the rateUSI project came from both the desire to highlight a double standard, and as an exercise with the Elo ranking system.

The project definitely stirred things up more than I anticipated. It launched at 5 p.m. on Thursday and within the first seven hours rateUSI received 16,000 unique hits. I’ve also seen a lot of people incorrectly assuming this was designed to be some part of protest to International Women’s Day. In reality I wasn’t paying attention to the calendar, it was entirely a coincidence.

It also definitely wasn’t my main thought initially, that this would be degrading to women, though I’ve definitely gotten more than a few other perspectives. I definitely now understand the issue there, especially since it happened to fall on International Women’s Day.

The amount and type of backlash I was receiving was enough to cancel the entire project. Specifically I was receiving a few death threats and other such responses. I figured it’d be best to remove it entirely.

Overall I’d like to apologize to the USI community as a whole. rateUSI definitely caused more harm than intended, the timing of which was extremely unfortunate, no matter how unintended it was.

Hopefully the next project can be a positive one.

— Glitch

 

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