Rape culture is the FAQ for “girls-only” dating app Lulu being more concerned with protecting a man from slander than a woman from assault.

@maymaym

I just learned about Lulu, the women-only dating app for rating men:

How many times have you researched a person on Facebook, Google and consulted friends and family before going out on a first date? I will admit that I always do my due diligence. (But don’t we all?)

A new app called Lulu aims to do the work for you by allowing its ladies-only users to secretly rate their male friends, lovers and ex-boyfriends on its online database of men.

I was initially extremely excited. “Yes! Finally! A way to mainstream sexual violence prevention by getting women to talk about it with other women using technology only they can access!” I thought.

But then I read the company’s “How Lulu works” page and I was not only crestfallen, I became enraged. Rage-inducing parts bolded by me, below:

Lulu is a private network for girls to express and share their opinions openly and honestly. In our first iteration, Lulu is a private app for girls to read and create reviews of guys they know.

A review is like a Cosmo quiz. It’s multiple choice! Unlike Yelp, girls can’t write in their own comments and girls can skip any question they don’t want to answer.

Who can see reviews?

Girls can only see and create reviews of their male Facebook friends.

If guys don’t want to be seen by their friends on Lulu, we take them off immediately via the button at the bottom of this page.

[…]

How does Lulu protect guys against abuse?

We built Lulu to be a safe and positive place for girls and guys. We’ve built a number of protections into the product, including:

  • Our reviews are multiple choice. Unlike Yelp, girls can’t write in their own comments.
  • Agree and disagree buttons let girls weigh in on the accuracy of each review.
  • Lulu is friends only. Guys can only be seen and reviewed by their female Facebook friends.
  • Lulu is 17+. We are not for children or young teens. We check the age of all users via Facebook and block anyone under 17.
  • If guys don’t want to be reviewed by their friends on Lulu, we take them off immediately via the button at the bottom of this page.

[…]

How do I get off Lulu?

If you don’t want to be reviewed by your friends on Lulu, we take you off immediately.

Everything that’s bolded here is the exact opposite approach that the Predator Alert Tool for Facebook took in its implementation. Compare the relevant sections from the PAT-Facebook FAQ:

Can I remove information about myself from the database?

No. It is not possible to remove or edit a statement once it has been submitted to the database. There are several reasons for this.

  1. The majority of requests for the removal of information come from people who believe they have been misrepresented. We do not consider this sufficient justification for censoring the voices of survivors. We want users to feel confident that if they choose to share their stories, their words will not be silenced.

[…]

What kinds of experiences can I share information about? How severe does it have to be?

You can share anything you think might be helpful to others or that you want to connect with others about. Think of using PAT-Facebook less like “filing a police report” and more like “leaving a bad review.”

[…]

Who can I share information about?

You can share information about any person who has a Facebook profile. This includes users who have blocked you and users you have blocked. If you want to share information about someone with a fairly common name, we suggest looking up their Facebook user ID to make sure your statement gets attached to the correct person.

To learn more about how to search for and choose users to share information about, read the User Manual:Searching page.

[…]

Who can see stories I share?

That’s up to you. You can choose to make the information you share public. You can also limit the visibility of the information you share to your Facebook friends only, to other people who have shared information about the same person, or only to people on your Facebook friend list who have also shared information about the same person. For a detailed explanation of these options, please read the User Manual:Decide Who Knows page.

The differences are striking:

  1. On Lulu, any information can be removed at any time, on-demand, at the request of the man. On the Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, no information can be removed, ever.
  2. On Lulu, women’s reviews are restricted to answering a set of pre-defined questions or tags. On the Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, women (and men, and anyone else) can write anything they want, positive, negative, or even completely unrelated.
  3. On Lulu, women can only write reviews about men who are currently their Facebook friend. On the Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, anyone on Facebook can write anything about anyone else on Facebook, even people they have blocked or people who have blocked them.

Lulu’s founder, Alexandra Chong, is quoted as saying, “We’re taking something we do all the time and we’re taking technology to better harness it and make it more mainstream and available for women to share knowledge together everywhere.” Which sounds great, but what’s so utterly fucking infuriating about this to me is that Lulu is a “product for women, by women” that was able to raise millions of dollars in venture capital yet seems specifically crippled with respect to making it possible for women to talk about SEXUAL ASSAULT, CONSENT, OR RAPE.

Since I’m not a woman, I can’t access Lulu. (That’s totally fine by me.) But it also means I can’t know whether there are sexual consent issues addressed by the app’s limited reviews (which consist solely of pre-defined questionnaires and tags, “There is no free open text”).

So, as it appears from every news article, blog post, and company press release I’ve read, if you want to share about a dude’s personal hygiene, Lulu wants to hear it. But if you want to share about that time he raped you or your friend? Sorry, you can’t talk about that on Lulu.

<ragecaps>AUGH BURN EVERYTHING.</ragecaps>

Edited to add: Fixed it. -_-
Screenshot of Predator Alert Tool for Lulu showing a guy's card "red-box'ed".

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