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Facemashed

February 17th, 2011

At the beginning of the movie “The Social Network,” Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, then a student at Harvard University, created a website called Facemash.com. The site compared female Harvard students to one another. According to the movie, Zuckerberg’s intention for creating Facemash.com was to get back at his ex-girlfriend.

A Facebook profile page mirroring the Facemash.com concept was created on Feb. 3 here at John Carroll University. The page is under the alias “Dan Loster.”

The creator calls himself “Dan Loster” and only agreed to an interview with The Carroll News if he did not have to give his real name. The interview was conducted on Facebook.

According to the profile’s creator, he drew inspiration to make the profile page after watching “The Social Network.”

The information page describes the profile as helping to distinguish “the hottest girls at Juan Carroll.” The creator set up a bracket that compares female students side-by-side and asks the friends of the page to cast their vote when new “match-ups” are posted. The bracket is modeled after the bracket used in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments.

To determine whom to feature on the profile page, the creator and his friends went through Facebook profiles of JCU students and selected 64 women who they thought were at similar levels of attractiveness. The pictures of the students featured were taken from their Facebook profiles without their knowledge. One female student requested that she not be featured, and so the creator of the profile decided to honor her request. However, no other girls have asked that their picture be taken off the site, according to the profile’s creator.

When the voting is complete, the collaborators of the profile plan to reveal their identity and announce the students with the most votes, according to the profile’s main creator.

A majority of the 64 women selected are freshmen at JCU, but nine are considered “all-star upperclassmen,” according to one comment on the page by the creator.

Freshman Gabriella Kreuz believes the profile objectifies women.

“I feel like it’s degrading,” she said. “Whoever made it obviously is a lowlife.”

The creator said his goal was not to offend anyone, and he tries to screen disrespectful comments that have been made on the comment threads or voting. To avoid degrading comments, the creator consistently reminds the voters to “be nice” or “be kind” when casting their votes.

Freshman Chuck Mule, who is a friend of “Dan Loster” on Facebook, understands how it could have a negative impact on the women featured.

“I think it is a funny idea, but it’s mean. Some of the girls in it may not be happy with it,” said Mule.

Junior Anna Barnes, one of the upperclassmen featured on the page, feels that it is an immature way for the creators to express themselves. She first heard about the page from her sorority sisters and freshmen friends, but she never gave consent to have her picture placed on the profile.

“I think this unfortunately condones people to place too much emphasis on the physical appearance of others,” said Barnes. “Personally, I hope no one puts too much weight in this; I think it could lead to a lot of hurt feelings.”

The creator said he meant no harm in creating the profile page.

He said, “I did not create Dan to offend any women at this fine institution. We are here to help crown Ms. Juan Carroll and see what our fellow men think of our fellow female students.”

He acknowledged that several other sites exist online that do similar comparisons, and even Facebook has picture comparison applications.

John Ropar, director of the University Counseling Center, said the profile is unbecoming of what JCU stands for.

“That type of thing diminishes women,” he said. “It would be detrimental to the campus community in general. I love John Carroll. I graduated in ’72. I’ve been here for 18 years. It’s disappointing to think that somebody would start an initiative of this sort.”

In response to “Dan Loster,” a “Danielle Loster” profile page was created on Feb. 11. “Danielle Loster” is an open profile and can be viewed by anyone who has a Facebook account, however you must be a friend of the profile in order to vote on photos of male students. As of 9:40 p.m. Tuesday evening, “Danielle Loster” had not posted any photos of male students.

Both profiles wanted 60 friends before they began the voting. The creator of “Dan Loster” told The Carroll News he reached 60 friends the night he created the profile. “Dan Loster” now has 155 friends as of midnight Wednesday morning. “Danielle Loster” had 66 friends as of 12:50 a.m. on Feb. 14, and 103 friends as of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning.

An attempt to reach the creator of the “Danielle Loster” profile page by The Carroll News was unsuccessful.

Both profile pages run the risk of getting shut down as long as they continue using aliases. According to the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities on the Terms page, a user “will not provide any false personal information on Facebook.” By creating a profile and using Facebook, both the creators of “Dan Loster” and “Danielle Loster” agree to the statement. If a user violates “the letter of spirit of” the statement, “we [Facebook] can stop providing all or part of Facebook to you.”