The Sun wanted Sex and Oxford in a headline, but there aren’t hundreds of Oxford students on shagatuni.com

A story in The Sun today makes a pretty remarkable claim: 722 female students at Oxford University are members of a social network set up to facilitate casual sex, Shagatuni.com. Do the maths: that’s one in ten women at the university.

Does that sound implausible to you? Because it should. Here’s why The Sun should never have run the story, and why you should think again before believing the hype.

Sunbelievable..the story which should never have run

About a fortnight ago, I spoke to Tom Thurlow, founder of the site. Thurlow shared some pretty impressive statistics with me: most notably that the site boasted 840 members from Oxford University – and that 62% of them were women. (By the time he’d given the story to The Sun, the number of women had crept up.)

Needless to say, we were going to run the story… but we couldn’t do it. Because anyone who has taken even the most cursory glance at Thurlow’s site can see how absurd his claim is.

Unlike others who reported it, I’ve actually bothered to register a paid account on the site to check it out, and here’s my verdict: it’s too good a story to possibly be true.

The Sun, however, has fallen for it hook, line and sinker, running with the headline, ‘Having it toff: Oxford girls top student sex website’.

The ‘students’ who contacted me on the site

Are we seriously to believe that 722 female Oxford students match Tom Thurlow’s colourful description of them as “wild” and “uptight in the day” but “by night always the craziest”?

I don’t think so. Not least because the site’s sign-up process uses a cunning sleight of hand, unreported by The Sunit doesn’t actually ask you what university you’re at.

All the site asks for is a postcode. That way, Tom can quote figures for “Oxford women” without having to confirm that they are currently enrolled students at the university.

He might well have 722 registered women in OX postcodes, but there’s no way to know if any of them are students.

And guess what? Thurlow even admits as much. “I can’t check for certain if they are students,” he told me. “If there was a system I would but I don’t know how I could check that.”

Using the site’s basic search function, I discovered that there are only 55 women aged between 18 and 23 within five miles of Oxford. Here’s a selection. Can you spot any tutorial partners? Yeah, thought not.

Click to enlarge

I’m not accusing Thurlow of outright dishonesty, but don’t be fooled by The Sun‘s credulous reporting: there’s no evidence that a single current Oxford student is registered on Shagatuni.com.

Sorry, boys.

  • Mohnish

    Thanks for clarifying! Just read an article this morning about this website in today's Metro paper. Seemed reasonable at the time so I thought I'd join up. What I couldn't understand was the article boasts that the cost of joining up is £5 for men and free for women (whatever happened to equality of the sexes!).

    After sending a few "winks" to some "users", I received a message in my inbox. Of course you have to upgrade to view messages and it's not £5…it's £19.95 for the 30 days!! What a scam!!!

  • Mohnish

    Thanks for clarifying! Just read an article this morning about this website in today's Metro paper. Seemed reasonable at the time so I thought I'd join up. What I couldn't understand was the article boasts that the cost of joining up is £5 for men and free for women (whatever happened to equality of the sexes!).

    After sending a few "winks" to some "users", I received a message in my inbox. Of course you have to upgrade to view messages and it's not £5…it's £19.95 for the 30 days!! What a scam!!!

  • James

    How it Toff is a good name though, give him that.

  • Googler

    The website is fake. Just put some of the profile pictures into Google Images and see random women from all over the world pop up.

  • David

    I reckon it’s highly likely that the number of female university students, from both Oxford Uni and Brookes, who use this site as a way of arranging regular casual sex hooks-ups is zero. You may get the odd few who have used it one or two times perhaps, but regularly, I seriously think it’s most likely there are none at all.

    But this isn’t the only issue. I already made another comment on a similar article in the Leeds Tab yesterday, basically just identifying with and adding to comments there that everything about the site is a scam, and not only these outrageous lies about the numbers of female students using it. I’ve just checked my mobile phone unbilled usage and can see I was ripped-off for the sum of £11.28 through the phone calls that you must make if you want to unsubscribe. Seven calls over a period of over 40 minutes of a cycle of ringing, before hearing a recorded message that all the operators were busy and that they’d be with me as soon as possible, then back to the ringing again before I finally got the pleasure of speaking to one of those involved in this highly dubious operation – getting the very fitting ending to the Shag at Uni experience of being accused of lying about the number of calls I’d made and time spent waiting in a tone she’d clearly mastered to perfection.

  • Bob

    worth reporting to trading standards!

  • truth

    this is a scam sight! It uses the exact same appearance/template of similar white label dating sites and profiles are bogus. Replies to winks only state they have ‘filtered’ you out. Don’t waste your money.

  • Pingback: Student sex site sharing profiles across the web – Lewis G. Parker – The Kernel

  • t

    There are things called ‘coats’ which we wear when it gets cold. We earn over £6 an hour and get into gigs/nights for free. So what if it is an ‘easy way of making money’. At least we are actually trying to earn some extra money rather than relying entirely on our loans or mummy and daddy. I’d rather be out there making money handing out flyers than sat weeping over it on a sad blog post.

  • Ridiculous.

    This is the biggest load of shit I’ve ever read, unless you work in the marketing/ promotions industry you haven’t got a leg to stand on. Amber Gamble needs to actually look at an issue before she comments on it. The wage is more than minimum. People read flyers. The hours and perks of the job are perfect. Just because you don’t want to give someone time of day for a few seconds doesn’t mean everyones like that.

  • SC

    haha from my experience the student union gives out more flyers than anyone else so not sure how you think you’re going to ban flyering at uni lol.

  • !

    What an appalling attempt at journalism. Making sly comments about students that make a legitimate income to support themselves and their studies is unbelievably pathetic. If you don’t want a flyer just say no thank you or walk past- honestly. We have enough conversations with great people who are interested in our events that your walking past and turning your nose up really doesn’t bother us. The ex-flyerer that you’ve interviewed was clearly awful at his job and that’s no reflection on hard working people that want to see the cause that they’re promoting do well. Who are you to tell people what is and isn’t an appropriate way to make money and to call somebody’s part time job ‘degrading’? Get off your high horse.

  • Anon

    Earning money is better than living off handouts from mummy and daddy all your life. Bore off.

  • oh dear

    Writing this terrible article is more degrading than giving out flyers haha

  • John Zugoola

    WEll im glad we all agree that:Amber Gamble is a complete cunt

  • Baffled student at NTU

    How was this article written by three different people but typed so badly?

    Multiple sentences starting with ‘And’
    Typos everywhere e.g. Pull off* a man bag
    Full stops in ridiculous places ‘Bonnington. Otherwise known as Trent’s fashion capital’

    And finally Bonnington aka trent’s fashion capital?!

    BONINGTON ONLY HAS TWO Ns

  • Chris

    Lol regardless its a crime, they should all do time. You cant steal someones phone and say; ‘Oh it was this thing that i had to do sorry heres your phone back’, thats theft, just as this is.