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Column: Facebook creeping is one thing, but is the ‘Who’s Ur Wan’ page a step too far?

Is Who’s Ur Wan Facebook page a bit of fun or another website objectifying women, asks Aoife O’Connor.

Aoife O'Connor

FORGET ABOUT HAVING a crush because it’s all about the creep these days. If you’re confused by this statement, then pop on over to the Who’s Ur Wan Facebook page that has become something of an online platform to help guys identify that “daycent” looking wan from the club last Saturday night.

But rather than having the nerve to approach her and go down that whole old-fashioned route of talking to her, you can now wait in hope that she might appear on this page so her friends can identify her so you can then proceed to online stalk her in the safe haven that is Facebook anonymity.

We’ve all had a Facebook creep at some point

Odds are that if you have a Facebook profile, you have creeped at some point, be it searching through friends of friends to find that one guy or girl who left a lasting impression on you or monitoring every move that your ex makes in his or her life without you in it.

The guilty pleasure derived from being a Facebook creep fuels the popularity of pages like Who’s Ur Wan. At the time of writing, the page had in excess of 45,000 likes with over 1,300 people talking about it, and despite being a male-orientated concept, the page is seemingly is popular with women as it is men.

While some may see featured females as objects of admiration, desire or sexual gratification, they can also become objects of envy, obsession or even hatred since that’s the world we live in – both ends of the spectrum always apply – making Who’s Ur Wan digital voyeurism at its very best.

There’s no harm in it?

Of course there are those who will point out that commenting on the appearance of women is nothing new, so why hone in on this particular page? But this whole ‘there’s no harm in it’ attitude can at times mask the underlying creepiness of it all.

The only prerequisite in getting a photo posted on Who’s Ur Wan is that the picture is available publicly on Facebook. As it says in the page tagline: “send us a link to the photo ur wan is in, and we will use our page to find out who ur wan is. Creep creep.” A couple of clicks and it’s a matter of sitting back and waiting for those on the Who’s Ur Wan bandwagon to do all the hard work for you.

The built-in bonus is the fact that Ireland usually turns out to be an incredibly small place, so chances of someone knowing the girl on a Facebook page with tens of thousands of fans are pretty high.

No permission

While it is clear that there is no malice behind the creation of the Who’s Ur Wan Facebook page, it does however raise questions about the morality of its end goal – the identity of a woman being made public without her permission.

While some bars and clubs around the country have photographers innocently snapping patrons on nights out, does this trend towards rating and slating on social media outlets signal that women now have to be wary of anyone with a camera when out socialising?

The issue is not one of the photos being taken and used by the respective venue. It is the non-consensual republishing of it on a separate unaffiliated page that encourages the identification and sexual objectification of the parties involved is the issue at hand.

Is there no privacy?

There is the argument that when these women pose for a photo in the first place, permission is indirectly given to the photographer thus allowing them to republish it as they wish. But then where does one draw the line on this de facto surrendering of privacy?

The blatant intrusive agenda of a page like Who’s Ur Wan calls into question the reasoning behind its creation. Should the page be commended as a clever way of manipulating the format of popular television shows like Take Me Out where men are selected based on their looks and dress sense rather than their interests and personality? Or is it a case that women love to cry double standards when the tables are turned and we don’t like it?

In the world of equal opportunities there is of course a Who’s Yer Man Facebook page, that is somewhat of a poor effort. With half as many likes as Who’s Ur Wan, the page misses the clever targeting of its’ female counterpart.

Sexually objectifying women on these sites?

Conversational slating and judgemental attitudes are nothing new. The problem is that social media allows these observations to take on a new lease of life online. Social media breeds voyeuristic behaviour and Who’s Ur Wan is a very public example of what is broadly culturally acceptable nowadays – the tendency to sexually objectify individuals.

But there is always the danger of attracting the wrong kind of admirer. Posing can be misconstrued as exhibitionism and pages like Who’s Ur Wan run the risk of generating unhealthy behaviour when creeping and the well-coined phrase that is “Facebook stalking” becomes a real thing. While the Who’s Ur Wan page welcomes feedback on inappropriate comments, it’s probably worthwhile that anyone identified on the page makes sure their Facebook profile is private or else information available to public is kept to a minimum.

Aoife O’Connor is a journalist from Kerry. You can view here LinkedIn page here or follow her on Twitter here. For more articles by Aoife for TheJournal.ie click here.

Read: “Who’s Ur Wan?”creator says they’re not breaking any rules>

Read: ‘Who’s Ur Wan’ Facebook group identifies women in nightclub photos>

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