Creepy Or Empowering?: App That Lets Ladies Anonymously Rate Very Non-Anonymous Guys

UPDATE: A spokesperson from Lulu responded to Consumerist’s inquiry as to why a girl would see a guy she doesn’t know showing up in the app. It turns out there are men who sign up with the intention of offering themselves up to be rated, and don’t mind who sees them.

Lulu follows Facebook’s developer terms, similar to other apps. As you noted, we have an automatic removal tool for any guy who doesn’t want to be reviewed by his friends. We find that the vast majority of guys want to be on Lulu as a way to get discovered by girls and get feedback from friends. We’ve received more than 500K requests from guys for girls to review them.
In addition to their Facebook friends, girls can also see guys who have signed up for Lulu. We have a different experience for guys to add info for girls to see, such as photos, relationship status, and hashtags. It is NOT true that girls can see whatever stranger is nearby. In your art gallery example, if that young lady was not friends with your male friend, then the only way she could have seen him is if he had signed up for Lulu.
 It’s good to have an explanation as to why strangers are here there and everywhere, but I still feel a little yucky.
Lulu is definitely provocative, but we think it’s perfectly normal for girls to discuss guys and relationships. In fact, Lulu takes its cue from the real world and we provide information to help girls make smarter decisions about relationships.

I am looking at a screen with the profile photos of many of my male friends. There’s a married guy who has his 2-year-old son as his main photo, right next to a stranger I’ve never seen before who I am not friends with on Facebook and the guy who sang loudest in high school choir. Oh, there’s my married brother. Their full names are there, along with a numbered rating from female reviewers.

You might’ve heard about the Lulu app from a New York Times piece about the company a few weeks back. I heard about it only recently from a friend who downloaded it out of curiosity and lo and behold, there was her boyfriend’s face with three reviews. She deleted it immediately instead of reading what his exes had to say about him.

Here’s how the company says it’s supposed to work, as a tool to help women have a bit of background about a guy before they go out with them: You sign in using your Facebook account but you get to stay anonymous (unlike the fellas) when you’re reviewing your past experience with the men whose faces show up on the site, whether you just had a crush or are an ex-girlfriend who wants to let the world know her heart was irrevocably broken.

It’s not quite like a Yelp for dating because reviewers can’t write whatever they want and are instead kept to a certain set of hashtags like #SweetToMom or #RudeToWaiters. The app guides you through a few sections like “appearance” “The Good” and “The Bad” and then comes up with a rating between 1 and 10 somehow at the end.

The app’s FAQ says: “Lulu is friends only. Girls can only see and review their friends. Guys can only be seen and reviewed by their friends.” (Side note: What does this accomplish then, unless you only want to date your FB friends?)

But the fact remains that I am seeing a whole lot of strangers who are most definitely not my Facebook friends. I’m seeing what their past crushes felt about them, whether they like to snuggle or got an “A in anatomy” (eww, when your family members are on there) and again, their full names.

As another friend related anecdotally, it seems that strangers can see whichever guy happens to be nearby.

“A friend of mine was at an art gallery about a month ago, chatting up a young lady, and she pulled out her phone right in front of him and looked him up on it while he was standing right there,” she says. “He said it felt supremely creepy.”

And the founder even seems to imply in the NYT piece that Lulu is meant to shed light on strangers, specifically: “When you Google a guy, you don’t want to know if he voted Republican or what he wrote a paper about in college.” she said. “You want to know if mothers like him. Does he have good manners? Is he sweet?”

If you’re already Facebook friends with the guy, why would you need to Google him?

Consumerist reached out to Lulu to address what would appear to be a privacy loophole — sure, the terms of use and privacy policy explain how the app needs to access your Facebook information, but I highly doubt every male I’m friends with would grant the use of his image and name just by the fact that we’re friends.

There is this on the FAQ: “If guys don’t want to be reviewed by their friends on Lulu, we take them off immediately.”

But again, the guy would have to be aware of such an app in the first place in order to request they be removed, and that might not be the case.

On the one hand, this could be seen as empowering — men are far from innocent when it comes to their treatment of women. But also? It’s kind of icky. Or is it? As a male friend of mine said when I asked, “Dudes just don’t really care.” Tell us if you care, dudes. And gals.

What’s He Really Like? Check the Lulu App [New York Times]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.