Women Who Eat on Tubes: Facebook took page down by accident

Founder Tony Burke said Facebook had unpublished his page, but group is now back up

The founder of a Facebook group which invited the public to post pictures of women eating on the Tube said it has been shut down amid mounting public criticism, as he defended his page as “observational art” this morning.

But the group Women Who Eat on Tubes is still in existence, but as a closed, member's only group after Facebook mistakenly took the page down before re-publishing it.

Tony Burke told BBC Radio 4 Today he started the group as an "observational study - just like any reportage photography" when he appeared alongside student Lucy Brisbane McKay, who is organising a picnic on the Circle Line as a protest against the group.

But Mr Burke, who says he is from "an artistic community" conceded it had transformed into a "radioactive monster" as its membership grew to over 20,000.

The page has been accused of objectifying and intimidating women, particularly as it does not feature pictures of men. Journalist Sophie Wilkinson said she felt "hurt and humiliated" when a man posted a picture of her eating a salad on the page, which Mr Burke claimed was no longer active - although a Tumblr page of the same name is still running.

He told Today: "As of this morning, Facebook has taken the group down. Actually, we're talking about something posthumously.

"[The protest] is irrelevant now because they're protesting about something that doesn't exist."

But Facebook have confirmed the page was mistakenly unpublished and is since back up. It said users who want to request taking their picture down can do so via its help page.

Mr Burke, who has previously likened his work to wildlife photography, argued the public has "a right to take photos of people without asking their permission".

"I think I was trying to capture a moment and I was trying to create something artistic - that's how it began," he insisted.


But when asked why his "observational" project chose to focus on male and not female subjects, he appeared to avoid the question.

"It was an observation, on...and random, and I really, I emphasise with the feminist argument ... but, I honestly feel that it is irrelevant in this case.

"It was an observation that I made, that more women than men eat on the tube, he said, as Ms McKay told him women do not want to be "the subject of your art".

"Why can't you listen to the voices who are saying that," she asked, "especially as your art is non-consensual?"

"I don't think women particularly want to be seen as wildlife eating on the tube."

Transport for London has since urged people to have "common sense and respect for other passengers".

Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations Steve Burton said: "If someone doesn't want their photo taken it is obviously inappropriate to do so.

"If any customer has concerns about such behaviour, believing there may be a sinister motive, they are advised to speak to our staff or the British Transport Police."

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn