Culture

Privacy concerns raised over ‘TubeCrush’ website where people post photos of men on public transport

Joseph McCormick November 18, 2017
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Privacy concerns have been raised over the website TubeCrush, on which users post photos of random men on public transport.

The website TubeCrush.net sees people submit secretly taken photographs of men they find attractive on the London Underground.

While the website has been around for six years, launching in 2011, new privacy concerns have been raised.

(TubeCrush.net)
(TubeCrush.net)

Other critics have also said the website promotes sexism against men.

The founder of the website, Steve Motion, has defended the site, saying that people featured on the site can contact administrators to have their photos taken down.

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“If someone wants their photo removed we will 100 per cent take it down.” He said.

He said that “it is different in our society for a woman to have her picture taken compared to a man.”

Adding that he had originally intended to include pictures of women on the site, he said he did research when launching the site and decided against it.

A Privacy International (PI) Solicitor Millie Graham Wood told the Evening Standard that: “Apps like TubeCrush may give the appearance of being innocuous and harmless. That is rarely the case where data is the new oil and we are the product.”

(TubeCrush.net)
(TubeCrush.net)

He added: “We note with serious concern that rather than address the very real and worrying privacy issues arising from this website and app, the privacy policy abdicates responsibility and fails to address the infringements on individual privacy. Further, they create an onerous process for individuals to remove their data.”

One of the men featured on the site, Harry Janes, 23, told the Standard that he had been informed he was featured on TubeCrush by a girl he was dating.

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“To be totally honest I thought it was absolutely hysterical. I’m not particularly sensitive so it was really just water off a ducks back. It did make me question what else might be lurking on the Internet that you don’t necessarily know is there though,” he said.

But he added that while he thought it was “funny” at the time it was posted, he has since said he thinks it is “incredibly creepy”.

He adds: “I have absolutely no recollection of even where I was going the day it was posted, but the fact that it’s obviously been documented, posted and commented on I find slightly odd.”

(TubeCrush.net)
(TubeCrush.net)

Going on, Janes said he thought the website is controversial, and that it would not be as accepted if it “focused on the objectification of women on the tube”.

Motion added that since the website launched, only 20 people had asked to have their photo taken down.

But the site has been criticised on Twitter by people who say it is sexist.

One user wrote: “The non-consent aspect of your work is worrying. Why encourage? You’re not exactly helping gender parity by reducing one gender to silent objects are you? Very counterproductive.

“The ratings of men on your site are mostly negative too so not positive is it.”

Another added: “If blokes did this about women, there would be outrage and rightly so. If you think its find to do this to blokes and not women, you are a regressive liberal.”

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A third defended the site saying that consent is not needed as the men are travelling in a public place, saying: “Is the tube a public place? You have to pay to use it..therefore private property and not public.”

And another user criticised a report about the site, simply because it did not mention that gay and bisexual men consume the site as well as women.

(TubeCrush.net)
(TubeCrush.net)

The author Mark Simpson, who has written commentary on the objectification of men, said: “Male objectification seems to be an unstoppable force.”

But he added that for men, “being a ‘sex object’ can be pleasurable, powerful and even money-making.”

He said: “Until there is a change in equilibrium when it comes to gender in society, it will be hard to have a site celebrating a woman’s appearance without making women feel uncomfortable.”

The website says it “celebrates… the attractiveness of strangers” on London’s transport system.

It has 11,000 followers on Twitter and the same number of likes on Facebook.

More: London, Men, sexism, tube

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