The rise and fall of OxShag, Oxford Uni’s casual sex database with every student’s details
Inside the 72-hour whirlwind of the seedy new site
“I started this genuinely with the best of intentions”, says the anonymous student, known only as the OxShagger, behind the now-deleted casual sex website OxShag. A breach of GDPR laws and a potential internal investigation by Oxford University were undoubtedly never on their mind when they came up with the concept. For many, it was just a seedy Ask.fm-esque site straight out of 2013.
In concept, OxShag was not dissimilar to other dating sites such as Tinder, designed to “spice up the Oxford casual sex scene which is currently underwhelming”, explains the OxShagger to The Tab. The site allowed students or staff to select other students or staff at the university that they wanted to “shag” all whilst hiding behind a computer screen, with matches to be revealed on Valentine’s Day. But it was not the premise of the dating website that saw it come under fire from fellow Oxford students and removed from the web until further notice.
The ultimate downfall of OxShag was that it ran on an opt-in basis, not opt-out. What this meant for every single student and staff member at the University of Oxford was that their full name and university college was available on the OxShag website, whether they had consented to it or not.
When it launched on Saturday evening, the site asked students to enter their university email address before being allowed to select a list of any 20 staff or students at the university who they wished to have a “casual shag” with. Using the internal Oxford University email system, the founder of the site was able to access every student’s name and include them on the website without their knowledge. Once signed up, for a mere £3 fee, you were able to reveal how many matches you had, be it fellow students or university staff.
In using the email system in such a way to access and spread personal details of those at the university without their consent means that the creator had risked breaching the university’s own policies regarding misusing its internal IT database, with the Oxford University saying in response that it was “concerned” and “taking immediate action” against the site.
In their defence, the OxShagger said Oxford students’ names and colleges can be found anywhere on the internet. Despite saying they do apologise for the inclusion of students’ personal details and admitting they “fucked up”, the creator says it has “been blown massively out of proportion” and that people need to “loosen up a bit”.
“Like seriously, it’s your name and college?! The site was only up for a few hours and the data that was available was seriously unlikely to cause any harm”, the OxShagger commented.
With backlash increasingly mounting over the weekend, including students threatening to write to their local MPs, file a class-action lawsuit or report the incident to Thames Valley Police, on Sunday evening the OxShagger amended the way the site works to an opt-in strategy instead where site users had to “nominate” students or staff they wished to match with.
Despite efforts from the creator to make the site palatable to all, yesterday saw the complete deletion of the website along with confirmation from the student behind it that it would not be running this term.
Whilst The Times reports that the site was run by multiple students, it is currently unclear whether it was a group or a singular student behind it but The Tab is working to confirm this.
The person or people behind the account hopes that this is not the end for OxShag. They hope that after their own period of “self reflection” and if “attitudes have changed” by next term, then they will give OxShag “another crack.” But for now, trying to access OxShag.com just greets you with an error message, informing the reader that they are “forbidden”.
A University of Oxford spokesperson said: “The university was very concerned to learn of this website and is taking immediate action to minimise the risk to our students to our students and staff and rectify this misuse of personal data.”
Featured image before edits via Ben Seymour on Unsplash.