When the dude-ranking app Lulu was released last year, it was met with more than a little bit of controversy. Because Lulu did not require a man’s consent for his profile to appear on the site, instead automatically syncing to a user’s Facebook account, its detractors argued that the app objectified men and invaded their privacy. The furor over Lulu came to a head last December, when a Brazilian man sued the app for invasion of privacy and a Change.org petition demanding that Lulu be shut down garnered more than 700 signatures.
In response to the controversy, Lulu has rolled out a few changes to appease men who appear in its database. While Lulu previously did not allow men to sign on to the site, allowing them only to “opt-out” if they wanted their profile removed from the app, they’ve since made it necessary for men to opt-in to the site before women can rank them. So if you’re a dude who gets a negative review on Lulu, you can just delete your account altogether.
Although Deborah Singer, Lulu’s director of marketing and PR, says the policy has been in place since Feb. 27, it didn’t receive much attention until Jezebel’s Kate Dries noticed that there were fewer profiles on the site than there were a few months ago. Upon further investigation, Dries realized that Lulu had snuck the updated policy into their FAQ and “How Lulu Works” sections of their website.
While Singer didn’t address whether the policy change was a direct response to the Brazilian lawsuit, she sent the following official statement from Lulu:
Our vision has always been to be a private place for girls to share their experiences and make smarter decisions—starting with guys and relationships. Millions of guys have signed up for Lulu and love getting feedback from the Lulu community. Some guys don’t want to be on Lulu, and we respect that. We’ve decided to be the better woman and only have guys on Lulu who are open to feedback.
While the new opt-in policy is certainly better for the guys who might find themselves on Lulu (and better for Lulu itself, which will presumably no longer have to defend its legal status as a result of the change), it does beg the question: Will men actually sign up to allow themselves to be ranked on Lulu? And if they do, doesn’t their pre-approval of their reviews defeat the purpose of the app itself, as a place for women to share their honest experiences of men?
While Lulu will probably still have its fair share of male users—some people just derive a form of twisted pleasure from seeing others talk shit about them in a public forum, if the success of apps like Secret and sites like CollegiateACB are any indication—a quick glimpse at the website indicates that there are very few men in my social network who have opted in to Lulu, which certainly diminishes the user experience quite a bit. It’s a lot less fun to read gossipy hashtag reviews like #EpicSmile and #ShouldComeWithAWarning for men you don’t actually know, but then again, it’s probably not fun for most dudes to appear on Lulu at all.
H/T New York Daily News | Photo by jaYmE del Rosario/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)