RateBU.com: How to Get Most Girls Angry

December 6, 2010 Hannah K 29 Comments

It was during a meeting for the library when someone asked the group, “Have you seen the site, RateBU.com?”

I hadn’t. Or maybe I had heard the name, but had no idea what the site was about…. Oh, maybe someone did a homegrown site like “RateMyProfessors”…. aw, that might be cute, acutally.

I was so, so, so very mistaken.

Some guy from the School of Engineering (Justin Doody) thought it would be a great idea to create a site taking cues from the movie The Social Network — which I admit to not having seen — the premise being a site where you rate two girls against each other over which is more attractive.

I’m all for freedom of speech. Go for it, pursue what you want, but this idea crosses some sort of moral or ethical boundary, and borders on terrible common sense. Did this boy’s mother not teach him that girls, despite what he might think, have feelings? That people have the right for their picture to not be posted on website without their consent?

Please, someone comment and correct me if I’m wrong, but you have to ask for permission to use someone’s likeness, like this website is doing. If this boy cowers and hides behind this clause from Facebook, as a defense, saying:

For now though here is an excerpt from facebooks terms:
“4. When you publish content or information using the “everyone” setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).”

I have to say that he is somewhat mistaken in his reading and understanding of this term of use. Yes, Facebook is warning you that anyone who has the internet could potentially use your picture and associate it with you. Use it “to associate [...] with you.” This is point important. Perhaps Susie Q. Somebody has her privacy settings set to “Everyone,” but when this guy — or anyone! — then takes the picture, and puts it on a website without her knowledge, he is associating her with a site against her will and without her consent. I don’t pretend to know the legal ramifications of this action, but it is far from ethical.

Under the Subject of “Protecting Other People’s Rights” on the Facebook Terms of Use site (which you can access here), it reads:

7. If you collect information from users, you will: obtain their consent, make it clear you (and not Facebook) are the one collecting their information, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you collect and how you will use it.

Justin Doody must have glanced over this part of the terms of use. “Collecting information,” which I imagine even covers a publicly accessible photo from Facebook, requires consent! Additionally, it is infuriating that with today’s understanding of plagiarism, which BU Today covered today, people think that because it’s on the internet, they’re entitled to use it! First, you have to attribute things you find, regardless of what it is. It is a huge mistake to believe that one has free reign to use whatever they find on the internet in whatever manner they choose.

Under the heading of “Sharing Your Content and Information,” it reads:

1. For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

So technically, Facebook has the intellectual property rights of your photos and videos, once you post them. However, this license only applies to Facebook’s use of our photos. It does not grant some kid who has nothing better to do than to set up a site objectifying girls at his university the right to use our things without attribution. The “transferable, sub-licenseable” words in that clause above implies that it is Facebook’s decision whether or not someone’s content is used. It is not a random user’s choice. It is not some jerk on the internet’s decision. Even if you do use it, you have to get Facebook’s permission to use the content. I highly, highly doubt that Justin Doody, or anyone else involved with the site’s management or creation, asked for permission.

I wonder how Facebook would feel if it was brought to their attention that someone was running a site based on their intellectual property. I imagine they would be fairly pissed. Maybe it’s worth discussing with Facebook formally somehow.

All the lingo from Terms of Service aside, here’s a letter to Justin Doody:


I am appalled that you were raised to think that objectifying women the way you do is excusable. It is not. You can say “But we’re doing this for guys as well” all you want. That doesn’t make what you’re doing any better. Objectifying anyone in this way is deplorable. Your site shows blatant disregard for people’s feelings. Speaking as a woman, do you know how fragile a girl’s self-esteem can be? That being rated in a semi-public forum on how attractive you are could destroy the tenuous stronghold of a woman’s thoughts on herself? Maybe in private, amongst your adolescent cohorts, this is acceptable behavior. I regret to inform you that it is not acceptable in the real world. I somehow doubt you’ve reached that level of maturity.

Your site’s model on dating sites where you rate people’s “hotness” is from people who have willingly added their photos to the a mix and database. The people who participate in these types of sites have explicitly given consent, and the site uses the photos because the people are okay and take accountability for themselves. You strip the average girl of this accountability, and you don’t even have any of your own. You hide behind one clause of Facebook’s Terms of Service and ignore the rest. Grow up.

This entire site suggests that you do not value consent. That is completely irresponsible.

And perhaps I’m wrong about how your site operates: maybe the all content on your site is provided by people who willingly submit the photos, maybe I’m not giving you the benefit of the doubt. But I ask you to provide a reasonable, well thought-out counter argument to what I’ve written; “haters gonna hate” — as you wrote on a Facebook group against your site —  is far from a mature response and certainly would not hold its own in any real-world argument. Perhaps that tactic worked when you were in middle school, but as a member of a university such as BU, one would expect that you are old enough and mature enough to have some more accountability than that.


Call me some crazy, feminist bitch, if you’d like. But I will not apologize for thinking that women are people, not ‘things’ that someone can demean and rate at their own leisure, that women deserve to be treated better than this (or anyone! Even the guys you plan on rating!).

“Oh jeez, this girl must obviously be some raging feminist, so whatever she says is immediately incredible.” If this is your immediate response, then I urge you again, have a responsible, adult discourse with me.

This blog post uses information found at http://www.facebook.com/terms.phphttp://buquad.com/2010/12/05/ratebu/, and a brief excerpt from http://www.RateBU.com/legal.php.

Author: Hannah K
I am a senior majoring in Italian, minoring in visual arts, and working here and with an IT department. Writing and reading have always been important to me, and what a better place to combine these passions than the library blog?

, , , , , Random Rants and Existential Crises

29 Comments → “RateBU.com: How to Get Most Girls Angry”

  1. Steph G. 3 years ago   Reply

    Hannah, I think you hit the nail on the head. Ethically, morally, and legally, Justin Doody is in the wrong and owes all the women of the BU community a rather large and public apology.

  2. Key 3 years ago   Reply


    Thank you. You took the words right out of my mouth.

  3. Quad Staff 3 years ago   Reply


    I hope you don’t mind me also citing the article that (literally) blew the cover off Doody with, if I do say so myself, some pretty darn good investigative journalism: http://buquad.com/2010/12/05/ratebu/

    • Hannah 3 years ago   Reply

      I assume you wanted the Quad to be cited? Done! (I knew I was forgetting something)

      • Quad Staff 3 years ago   Reply

        I was cool with it in the comments, but thanks! Great article, btw. Hadn’t thought about term 7, but we’ll bring it up when we interview a privacy lawyer about it, hopefully tomorrow or wednesday. It might only apply to Facebook Platform.

    • Ali Donohue 3 years ago   Reply

      I was just showing a friend this article and saying how impressed I was by the badass level of investigative journalism. The Quad rules!

  4. BU-ALPHA MALE 3 years ago   Reply

    You probably are not on the top 25…

    • Hannah 3 years ago   Reply

      I don’t understand the reasoning behind your comment. It suggests to me that there is some correlation between how one writes or speaks, and their physical appearance, which I don’t believe exists. Then there is always the subjectivity of “hotness”; there’s the age-old expression of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What one person finds attractive is not always universal.

  5. Meghan 3 years ago   Reply

    Hannah, thanks so much for this- this is fabulous writing!

  6. Student 3 years ago   Reply

    I don’t think you should be targeting Doody himself but rather the culture at BU that embraces this idea.

    • Hannah 3 years ago   Reply

      That is an excellent point. Though Doody is responsible for the website, there are the users on the site that are using it to its fullest that equally as responsible. The culture of BU should not so readily embrace this idea like it has, and I think it’s sad that it does, but that doesn’t mean Doody shouldn’t shoulder any blame.

    • Another student 3 years ago   Reply

      I’m not convinced a majority of the BU community DOES embrace this idea. I certainly don’t, and I know a lot of other BUers who don’t either. In fact, I can’t think of a single person I’ve talked to about RateBU who doesn’t think Doody’s website (and attitude) are shameful at best.

  7. Female Freshman 3 years ago   Reply

    I personally do not feel the majority of BU accepts the idea. While there are a few young women I know who think it’s “so funny to see who’s on there” and “want to see if they get on”, the overwhelming consensus is that this guy is a jerk for what he’s doing and an idiot for thinking it won’t have legal, moral, and ethical ramifications for him in the near future.

  8. ceolsen 3 years ago   Reply

    I don’t think anyone is saying the majority of BU students embrace his idea. It’s clear from all the buzz that most people are not ok with ratebu. But the fact is 643,671votes have been cast in the past four days, so clearly some people thought this was a good idea..

  9. jeanzcocla 3 years ago   Reply

    I think a lot of people cast votes because that is the only way to see the girls that have been posted, so it’s the only way to see if you or your friends have unknowingly been added. I do not think that the number of votes is a reflection of approval.

    • Another student 3 years ago   Reply


    • allisonfrancismusic 3 years ago   Reply

      I registered with RateBU when I first heard about the site last week, to check it out. For the record, you can just hit “refresh” on the ratings page to see if you/your friends are on there; you don’t have to rate girls.

  10. rob 3 years ago   Reply

    Hannah, let me start by saying you don’t sound like a raging feminist bitch. You do however sound very naive. Of course women are more than just their appearance, but whether you like it or not, your appearance is the only thing that most people (those that don’t know you) see. There is nothing wrong with finding someone unattractive, and the fact that men compare notes about who they find attractive isn’t unique to bu, or even to college. All men of all ages do this, whether they admit it or not. The physical layer is just one layer of attraction, and its obviously the only one that strangers can evaluate.
    I would suggest to you, or any woman that can’t bear to find out that she isn’t as hot as some of her class mates, that you just ignore this kind of objectification. There are so many other levels that matter so much more.

    • Hannah 3 years ago   Reply

      I’m not so naive to believe that this sort of rating of attractiveness doesn’t exist, because I’ve certainly witnessed it. And I would agree with you that appearance is the first thing that people judge you on, because it’s the easiest: you use your eyes, you see the person, you establish an opinion. However, in the physical world, you can build on your initial impression by (hypothetically) walking up to her/him and asking her/him more about herself/himself. On the site, the appearance of women (and men, if that has started already) is given a value by the rank of votes. So in my mind that’s objectifying. No one is asking what their favorite color is, what activities they may enjoy, what book shaped their childhood, what their feelings on winter weather are; no one can hear the sound of their laugh, the timbre of their voice. A person being voted on on this site is reduced to a single trait, which makes them more or less valuable, depending on votes.
      And ignoring a problem like objectification does not make the problem go away.

  11. rob 3 years ago   Reply

    I think you don’t seem to understand that some level of objectification will never go away. As you said yourself, you use your eyes…if you decide to go and talk with that person, its because to some extent you have objectified them…you think, gee that person is very attractive to me, I’d like to…and what comes after that thought reveals the level of objectification.
    My point was only that you really shouldn’t concern yourself with the shallow and superficial people around you. They cannot be enlightened no matter how much you point out how wrong or insensitive they might be.

  12. Jared 3 years ago   Reply

    Evidently you are no law student, as your legal arguments pertaining to the acquisition and subsequent publishing of women’s photos against their consent are naive and hollow. I stumbled upon this website, or blog, or whatever this is that allows inconsequential people to rundown their meaningless thoughts and opinions, in an attempt to find the aforementioned site: RateBU.com

    Do not take this response as a symbol of recognition, nor as proof that “blogging” or creating Facebook pages in protest and response is an effective way of changing policy. Simply put, I was both humored and appalled at your whiny legal arguments condemning the creator of the aforementioned website.

    You made the claim that the actions of the current defendant and those taken by Mr. Zuckerberg are not dissimilar, when indeed you could not be farther from the truth. Mr. Zuckerberg obtained photos from private databases that were not made public. Mr. Doody, however, did not take anything that could not have been obtained by anyone else. The Supreme Court has made clear distinction between private and public spaces. Just as I can take photos of you in a Walmart parking lot and do with them what I choose, I can take them from Myspace or Facebook, so long as my means of acquisition does not break any laws, ie. hacking.

    You write:

    “So technically, Facebook has the intellectual property rights of your photos and videos, once you post them. However, this license only applies to Facebook’s use of our photos. It does not grant some kid who has nothing better to do than to set up a site objectifying girls at his university the right to use our things without attribution. The “transferable, sub-licenseable” words in that clause above implies that it is Facebook’s decision whether or not someone’s content is used. It is not a random user’s choice. It is not some jerk on the internet’s decision. Even if you do use it, you have to get Facebook’s permission to use the content. I highly, highly doubt that Justin Doody, or anyone else involved with the site’s management or creation, asked for permission.”

    WRONG. Intellectual Property only extends to copyrighted and patented material. I doubt that the photos taken by Mr. Doody have been formally copyrighted with the United States Copyright Office. AND, even if they were, you’d be doubly-wrong. So long as Mr. Doody’s site does not earn a profit, kindly observe:

    § 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonerecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

    All of these Facebook terms of use that you list are irrelevant. They do nothing legally beyond protect Facebook’s liability; they do not protect you.

    In conclusion, Mr. Doody is doing absolutely nothing wrong, beyond upsetting a few ugly girls who have thus far refused to accept reality.

    Life’s cruel – get over it.

    • Hannah 3 years ago   Reply

      I don’t make a claim to be a law student, and I do ask for people to correct me if I was wrong. With your analysis, it appears as though perhaps I was. I am totally open to admitting such a defeat. However, it’s troubling that while trying to rebut my points — something totally valid — you proceed degrade this blog for hosting opinions. Is that not the main intention of a blog? To be a place to expose your opinions to the greater population of the internet? And not only do you degrade the blog, but your claim that opinions can be “meaningless” is also cause for worry. What makes our opinions meaningless? Even if my legalese is not sound, are the thoughts behind the argument meaningless? Should we ignore the problem of this one boy putting girls in a position of being voted on, when they don’t want to be, even if there’s no legal way to say he’s wrong? I believe that what he is doing is certainly somewhat morally wrong. It’s what I believe, and I don’t believe that this opinion is “meaningless.”

      Ultimately, what I have a major problem with, is that you have decent arguments against what I’ve said, but all the weight of what you say disappears when you have to hide behind language that puts down what I, as well as others on the blog, have to say. “Life’s cruel — get over it.” erases any feeling of valid defeat I had when I read your response. I believe that’s hardly a mature way to sum up what you had to say; you certainly don’t hear that as a closing argument in any for of debate. Especially in a court of law.

      • somebody 3 years ago   Reply

        Because this blog is so much like a court of law that it matters.

      • Jared 3 years ago   Reply

        I wasn’t degrading this blog personally, merely the concept and usage of blogs. People who create blogs and actively contribute, in my opinion, suffer from a condition known as Unwarranted Self Importance (USI). These are the type of people that create Facebook pages like “Shorten Lil-Wayne’s Prison Sentence” and honestly believe that they are affecting public policy. The same idiots who think that Twitter is going to free Iran, and when Soviet-era tanks roll through Tehran, are genuinely surprised their “tweets” were unsuccessful.

        I find blogging to be a waste of time. However, at least you’re not one of those people who gives daily updates about their meaningless life – the ultimate example of USI.

        When referring to your opinions as meaningless, I was not declaring they had no intention or value, but rather was affirming something we both know – they will accomplish nothing. The presence of this blog does absolutely nothing to change the fact that RateBU exists and will continue to exist until Mr. Doody decides otherwise. Your post was not without intention, nor without purpose, but when measured against actual results, it will ultimately be…meaningless.

        I was not aiming to invoke an feelings of valid defeat from you, so the fact that these feelings dissipated when you read my last line is irrelevant. The truth of the matter is that life is indeed cruel, and people should get over it. It was not a summation to my post, nor a closing argument in a debate, merely a word of advice.

        “Feelings” are irrelevant when dealing with freedom of speech. I don’t care if RateBU plunges the self-esteem of 200 girls. The “problem” here is not Mr. Doody creating the site, but rather the feedback it generated in the form of calls for censorship. People today are under the delusion that if something or someone “hurts the feelings of someone else,” that speech should be censored to “protect” these people.

        I leave you with a quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall, often misattributed to Voltaire:

        “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

        • Erik 4 months ago   Reply

          It seems to me that leaving a comment ridiculing bloggers for their “USI” is the ultimate form of “USI”. The goal of a blog post is not always to change something or make something happen. Often, people blog, comment, or write just because they like to voice their opinions, just as you clearly do. And in certain cases, such as the Egyptian revolution or a successful marketing campaign, social media does in fact have tremendous power to change things.

          In terms of the opinions stated in the post, I think is a little harsh to call a website such as RateBU “deplorable”. As has been stated, noticing physical attractiveness is a natural part of human interactions. More simply, people like looking at good-looking people. I know plenty of girls and guys have mental rankings of people they find attractive. That isn’t and shouldn’t be deplorable. The internet has just made private conversations, ones that might happen over lunch or at a 6th grader’s sleepover, more public. That is a simple fact and it’s part of what the world has become.

          Of course women should be treated as more than physical objects, just the same as men should. And it is an unfortunate consequence of culture and the way we raise girls that women’s self-esteem is so heavily based in how others view their appearances. It’s a problem for men too, one that men are raised to hide and pretend doesn’t exist.

          But is an app like Tinder, which creates matches entirely based on judgements of appearance (initially, at least), deplorable? Is walking up to an attractive girl in a bar deplorable? What about magazines full of pictures of shirtless male celebrities? What about pornography? What about nude paintings?

          Of course I’m playing Devil’s advocate and these are extreme examples, but I think they show that hunting down the many sources of physical objectification and appreciation in the world is a bit silly. There’s all sorts of rankings in the world – your class rank, your GPA, which college you go to, your salary – which men and women all have to deal with.

          Physical appearance is just one of the ways in which people are ranked by others, one which happens to be more private than the others; the Magna Cum Laude is asked to speak at graduation, people are promoted within a company, and people post and celebrate about where they’ve been accepted to school. Trying to hide these rankings and differences is mostly pointless and doesn’t do anything to address the fact that people need to be comfortable with who they are and that not everyone can be the smartest, the richest, the most successful, or the most attractive.

          Perhaps we should focus less on striking down sites like RateBU and more on teaching people that it’s okay to be “less hot” than someone else, and that attractiveness shouldn’t determine how they treat someone or how much they pay someone.

          • Dan 4 months ago  

            All I have to say is, I am glad I do not go to BU, because I would’ve probably ended up on this site. In any case the fact that BU is doing nothing about this site is quite appalling. A similar website was created at one of my universities and it was shut down within less than a day after the administration found out and it was apparently rumored that the students were expelled from the university, but that I cannot confirm. So, in essence, what’s BU’s excuse? At the very least, Mr. Doody should comply with requests to have images of certain girls removed. While I am not on rateBU, I feel bad for those who are on it. It just shows that people just think that college about rating girls based on attractiveness. Mr. Zuckenburg illegally obtained the photos by hacking into Harvard servers which populated Facemash. However, even though it is a public domain on Mr. Doody’s site, it doesn’t mean you can just use it without their consent.

            While there may be no legal basis for RateBU to be shutdown, I have to say is that Mr. Doody will have to deal with the criticism he receives, lots of female students are angered by this site and as life passes when he gets older they are just going to remember him as some douche who created a site for rating girls.

    • Matt 4 months ago   Reply

      Jared, I want to point out that the majority of what you stated in your comment is incorrect. I know you used big words because you wanted to sound smart and impress people, but you are very wrong on a lot of things, it is people like you and Mr. Doody who think that anything that is available online is freely available to be copied.

      You say:

      “WRONG. Intellectual Property only extends to copyrighted and patented material. I doubt that the photos taken by Mr. Doody have been formally copyrighted with the United States Copyright Office. AND, even if they were, you’d be doubly-wrong. So long as Mr. Doody’s site does not earn a profit, kindly observe:”

      actually, YOU ARE WRONG and Hannah is correct, all copyrighted material is tangible upon fixation. Meaning that whoever takes the photo is assumed to be the copyright owner, and you must obtain permission from the copyright owner to use on a sight. Further here is a quote from an agent who has experience with Intellectual Property.

      “Copyright protection is available to both published and unpublished works, and attaches at the moment that the photograph is taken. It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright, and there is no such thing as a right to freely copy or an implied right to copy simply because someone posted something on the Internet.”

      My guess is that you are probably Mr.Doody pretending to be someone else to defend your childish website, but I digress. It is rather childish and pathetic that many students think that college is all about rating girls based on attractiveness. I am in fact, more appalled by BU’s failure to take any action against this website. I am surprised that this site is still online.

  13. bro 3 years ago   Reply


    I find it troubling when you try to defend your argument you only specify girls are being put in a position to be voted on.

    ie: “Should we ignore the problem of this one boy putting girls in a position of being voted on, when they don’t want to be, even if there’s no legal way to say he’s wrong?”

    When I read this, I get the feeling that you are still under the impression that only girls are affected by this, however, guys are being voted on as well.

    But actually when I think about it, girls ARE the only ones that complain about it. Every guy I’ve talked to who is on ratebu thinks its “cool” and doesn’t really care or look too much into it. However, when I talk to certain girls about the site, they are outraged and spout feminist hate at me while on the verge of tears. Is this because girls are so shallow that it makes them rage at the thought of other people judging their appearance… based on their looks? What an odd concept. Judging beauty, based on their appearance. Who woulda thought?

    • Hannah 3 years ago   Reply

      I believe I did mention that it’s pretty bad for boys as well. But I apologize if I wasn’t more clear about that.
      So, in your final paragraph, you mention that boys aren’t so peeved by the situation, which is all well and good, and that girls seem to come at you in a “feminist” rage. I think this may be because for a sizable chunk of human history, women are treated as the lesser half of the species, with some notable exceptions. You may disagree, but that’s how I interpret my gender’s role in history. It was only within the last century or so that women have really come into our own. At least in America, we can vote, we can work alongside men in all sorts of jobs, we can participate actively in the military; it’s a crazy amount of progress! But on an everyday level, I believe sometimes all this progress can be ignored when someone (in what I believe are many cases men) strips away all the other things that could be worthwhile in a woman, and creates her to be an object that is meant to be pretty and looked at. Perhaps guys feel this way too, but that hasn’t been a role for them to fill for a large chunk of history. It is frustrating when you’re shoved back into the “look pretty” and other things about you are not important. It is my belief that the site promotes this ideal again, and that’s why girls might get angry. All those years striving to be appreciated as more than the pretty object of men, and poof! And by not asking the girls (and I think this part of the argument really only applies to them) whether they want to be included in this odd ranking system, one removes their voice — and as women, we have been working long and hard to have that voice heard — we are silent, vacuous, pretty objects. We are not considered people, we are something that’s pretty/hot/beautiful. And that, I believe is the root of objectification and it’s a problem across the board.

      Another issue I have, that I couldn’t articulate until now as that, yes, everyone “objectifies” the gender that they’re interested in. But it’s my understand you don’t have a running number of every person you have found attractive and their rank respective to others. “Well, Joe is pretty hot, so I guess he’s the 4th hottest of guys I’d consider hooking up with, and since he’s next to Jim, and Jim’s less attractive — he’s only 10th hottest…” Sounds pretty ridiculous when it’s not online if you ask me. Sure, you may have a collection of people you find attractive, but you don’t order them, nor do you pit them against each other and then adjust their rank accordingly.

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