When Lulu – the app where women can anonymously comment on how dateable men are – first came on the scene, it was a big deal, partially because of the limited control men had over whether they were on it or not. But because of pressure from said demographic, the company has changed their policies to give men a lot more say.
A tipster emailed Jezebel that she'd logged in this week to find that "suddenly half my reviews were missing":
I emailed the app and they directed me to the FAQ where snuck in, like it was always there, the answer to "how come some of my reviews are missing?"
It's true: these days, Lulu's FAQ section is looking a little different. Whereas once the app would automatically include anyone with a Facebook profile in their search database, they've slowly altered that policy. The company originally would willingly take down the profiles of unhappy men who had emailed them, a basic opt-out policy. They then made that process even easier by adding a button to their site that would delete those accounts "immediately," no questions asked. But recently, they've made another change: men featured on the app have to actually opt-in to be included.
This change has removed a lot of dudes from the app, pretty drastically altering its scope. Last week, a Jezebel staffer was out with a male friend who was unfamiliar with Lulu and went to show him his profile for fun. It wasn't there. Today I went back to see if few profiles I had remembered looking at in early December were still there. A few were, but a few weren't.
Lulu's current FAQs clarify that "Girls can see and create reviews of guys who have signed up to get discovered by millions of girls. If guys change their mind and don't want to be checked out by girls on Lulu, they can remove their profiles immediately by the link at the bottom of this page." [Emphasis added.] This "guys can be removed if they want to be" policy is repeated several times on their How Lulu Works page as well.
According to our tipster, this specific section on the website about those pesky missing reviews is new:
You can only see reviews of guys who have signed up for Lulu.
If you want to review a guy and he's not on Lulu, get him to sign up and he'll be right back on your dashboard.
A Lulu spokeswoman – who said this most recent policy change was implemented February 27 – gave Jezebel the following statement about the shift [Emphasis added]:
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.
From the get-go, the company faced criticism because it's a platform that allows women to rag on their former partners; the major complaint was that if an app existed where men rated women, people would riot in the streets. But outside of morality or sexism concerns, Lulu operates in some messy legal waters. When founder Alexandra Chong first launched the app as Luluvise in 2011, the Guardian pointed out that automatic Facebook settings meant that a lot of very personal information about users who hadn't even signed up for it could be shared via Lulu. In December, the company changed their Brazilian policy to be opt-in only for men. In January, they were sued by a Brazilian man who was unhappy with the negative comments about him on the app. Lulu has reportedly been out of commission in Brazil since the holidays.
While this new change will likely appease those who were upset about Lulu to begin with, it also changes the intent of the product remarkably. Lulu was created as a safe space for women to say whatever they wanted. Now it's become a much safer space for men too.