Published on January 28, 2014 | by Jessica Murray0
‘Pervert’s paradise’ website leaves students worried
Social media website Ratemash has been dubbed as ‘pervert’s paradise’ by UK students who were angered when they found their personal photos appearing on the site without their consent.
The website claims to be a “cheaper and more fun” way of meeting people; it has uploaded more than 150,000 profiles of students from 160 universities worldwide, using their profile photos and full names from their Facebook accounts.
Clicking on the student’s photo redirects the user to that person’s Facebook account.
The students are organised by university and there is a leader board for the “hottest” males and females, as voted for by users, for each institution.
If two users both vote each other’s profile photos as “hot,” they will be introduced to each other via a website moderator.
LCC photography student Cecily Morris, who discovered her close friend was featured on the website, said: “Ratemash is very demeaning of both girls and guys. You’re being rated by your peers; a bunch of students are telling you if you’re attractive or not. This could certainly kill someone’s self-esteem.”
Ratemash founder Michael Healy told Arts London News that the website is nothing more than a social media platform which helps students to connect.
“We have enough spies looking into our personal lives, we don’t need random matchmaking websites scrolling through our personal details and making them public” – Mostafa Rajaai
“Ratemash connects people within communities such as schools, conferences and similar interest groups. We are the place to go which helps you to find the hottest parties in town and places to hangout,” Healy said.
Culture and diversity SUARTS officer Mostafa Rajaai was shocked to find that he was placed fourth on the leaderboard for “hottest guy at UAL,” despite having never heard of Ratemash before.
“We have enough spies looking into our personal lives, we don’t need random matchmaking websites scrolling through our personal details and making them public,” Rajaai told Arts London News.
Healy states that “people are invited/nominated onto the website by their friends”, however, second year BA Photography student Grace Jackson from LCC, who was rated number one on the “hottest girls” leader board, claims she received no invitation from Ratemash.
She said: “I still know very little about the website. I never joined and I don’t want to join. The whole thing is pretty worrying.”
University and College Union (UCU) Welfare and International Officer, Katie Kokkinou, was reported in The Telegraph as stating: “Multiple students have said that it took days for their photo to get taken down [after complaining]. This is unacceptable, and completely undermines a person’s right to choose whether or not they want to be there. But more than that, they shouldn’t have had to ask, because it shouldn’t have been put there without consent.”
King’s College law student Tegan Creedy, who sits at number 14 on the leaderboard, said: “The fact that anybody who types ‘Ratemash’ into Google can access the profiles of hundreds of students seems to be, to put it bluntly, a pervert’s paradise. The site appeared to me to be the epitome of an age where people are painfully aware of their appearance, especially as to how they present their online image.”
Ratemash also provides an incentive for those on the leader board of the top 50 “hottest girls and guys” from each university.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Healy said: “We are awarding modelling contracts, access to top nightclubs, party invitations, spa vouchers and cash if you are in the top 50 for girls.”
Male students featured in the top 50 leader boards will apparently receive the same prizes, with the exception of spa vouchers which are substituted for “free alcohol.”
“If you present yourself in a way that is considered attractive by peers we will reward you. This is not the kind of message I would want younger girls and boys to be understanding.” – Tegan Creedy
Commenting on this ‘award scheme,’ Creedy told ALN: “This is essentially the message: if you are good looking, you can get free stuff, life can be made easier, and things come free, completely regardless of other merits. If you present yourself in a way that is considered attractive by peers we will reward you. This is not the kind of message I would want younger girls and boys to be understanding.”
Rajaai expressed his concerns for students involved with Ratemash: “We have enough problems on our campuses as it is and a lot of it relates to how people believe to be received by their peers. Now on top of all of that, they are being ‘rated’ by absolutely random people and have been put on a chart. This is severely problematic.”