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Fitsort.com: Harmless fun?

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Ever wondered how fit you are? How you stack up against the rest of the lads? Or whether your girlfriend is more attractive than your sister? Now you can courtesy of fitsort.com, the new phenomenon sweeping the Facebook community.

Pioneered by group of perfectly chiselled Cambridge students, fitsort seeks to achieve what humans have been trying to do for centuries and that is to effectively rate the opposite sex. The concept is simple. Users sign in using a Facebook account and are asked to choose between two randomly generated pictures of their friends, be it male, female or both and decide who is hotter. Those who cut the mustard are allocated points, whilst those who are not preferred are penalised. The number of points awarded is relative to the rating of your opponent.  So if someone manages to overhaul the George Clooney of the crew his score increases more dramatically than if he only trumps the local country bumpkin for example. Users are then entered into a league table with all their Facebook friends in ascending order from hot, to not so hot.

With nearly 1 in 30 people in the UK using the website, and over 4 million votes counted as of last month, fitsort is on the rise, but is it all just harmless fun?

Well first off you may not have a say in the matter. As a member of Facebook your profile pictures are automatically updated to the website. Therefore even if you haven’t ever visited fitsort chances are that you have been rated and are on the leader board of hundreds of Facebook users across the globe.

How you may ask? Well in fact in using such information fitsort and Facebook are not breaking any laws. That being said, little has been done to warn users of the ease with which their privacy can be breached, although it is possible for a user to block the interference of third party sites on the Facebook site. Moreover, only information that the user has allowed others to view on Facebook can be shared on the site.

But is this still moral? For most of us the idea of such ratings is either ludicrous or merely a source of light entertainment. However, there is no doubting that in the wrong pair of hands fitsort has the potential to become a potentially harmful tool. Young teenagers, with whom hormones are already high enough, it seems could be worse affected. Websites like fitsort create hierarchies and unjustly isolate individuals in the same way as a bully would in the school playground, and with access to the leader board only a click away, those who find themselves at the bottom of the pile are likely to have a large audience for their public humiliation.

So is this avoidable?

For me it is a case of responsibility. If you join Facebook you must be aware of the risks. Be it prospective employers scanning your pictures and status updates, or in the case in question the involvement of a third party website. If you are old enough and mature enough to be using social networking sites then you should be aware of the dangers that they bring. At the end of the day websites like fitsort are only exposing our own perpetual need for self-aggrandisement.

So if you insist upon sharing your latest haircut with the world, don’t be surprised to find that the thirteen comments made about your profile picture are not the only appraisal your friends have been making about your precious new locks.

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