The controversial website FitFinder has been forced offline after disciplinary action was taken against its founder.

FitFinder Cambridge homepage

Rich Martell, a 21-year old computer scientist from UCL, was fined “for bringing the university into disrepute” after a number of institutions raised concerns about the site. FitFinder, which allows students to post descriptions of attractive peers, has been criticised for providing a distraction during crucial exam terms and for the offensive nature of some material.

Amongst the most disapproving were the London School of Economics, who last week told The Times that they were against the site and had asked people not to use it. “First of all we had some complaints from students who found it insulting and secondly if you’re in the library you’re there to study.”

Such pressure has forced Martell to comply. He told Varsity: “I am personally conscious that my degree could be put in doubt if the site remains up... I have been told that a disciplinary panel is a very real option, in which case a punishment such as expulsion would not be out of the question."

The social networking website had received over 5 million hits since it was set up in April, crashing UCL's servers shortly after its creation. Since it was taken down yesterday, more than 2,500 people have shown their support and signed a petition on the site’s homepage for its reinstatement.

Martell has assured Varsity that “we WILL be coming back with a more developed website as soon as possible. I’m wanting to take it forward but I want to clear things up and comply with the unis. People want it. Its only a social networking site."

As such, he plans to “bring FitFinder to people via apps on mobile devices and across music festivals over the summer.”

Students from the University of Cambridge are amongst those angered by the site’s removal. One undergraduate maintained: “It’s just harmless entertainment and no more of a distraction than Facebook. No one I know is offended by it.”

Another agreed: “I don’t see what the problem is. It provides a welcome break from revision and is a talking point amongst friends.”

Nevertheless, offence has been caused at other universities. Cardiff University deemed the site to be “sexist”, and considered blocking it last week after it received complaints about “anonymous bullying.”

One student at the university asserted that “the majority of comments on FitFinder depict the object of attraction as little more than a slab of meat.”

The site has previously been removed from some university servers but reinstated hours later after students complained that the ban violated their freedom of speech. This time, however, it is unclear how long the removal will last.

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