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Founder Tony Burke said Facebook had unpublished his page, but group is now back up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felt "hurt and humiliated" when a man posted a picture of her eating a salad on the page, which Mr Burke claimed was no longer active - although a Tumblr page of the same name is still running.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But Facebook have confirmed the page was mistakenly unpublished and is since back up.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."
- 1 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 2 Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
- 3 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
Archaeologists discover 2,400-year-old gold bongs in Russia
Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after British tourists complain of 'awkward' holidays
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...
£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...