User privacy on social networks, especially Facebook, has always been a contentious issue. Now Facebook is again in the spotlight, this time via a new online dating site called LovelyFaces.com. The website launched earlier this week and sported 250 000 member profiles on its first day.
And no, the site isn't that popular, its creators had simply copied the data directly from Facebook profiles. According to Gizmodo
, names, locations and photos were sourced from publicly accessible Facebook pages. The site categorizes people's pictures using a facial recognition algorithm, rating them as either “easy going”, “smug” or “sly”.
But this story has a catch to it, the website wasn't created for money making purposes, instead it was designed as an elaborate prank against Facebook, showcasing how easy it is for anyone to gain personal information from the social networking giant.
Created by media artist Paolo Cirio and editor-in-chief of Neural magazine, Alessandro Ludovic, the project even has its own legitimate home at face-to-facebook.net
. “Facebook, an endlessly cool place for so many people, becomes at the same time a goldmine for identity theft and dating – unfortunately, without the user's control. But that's the very nature of Facebook and social media in general. If we start to play with the concepts of identity theft and dating, we should be able to unveil how fragile a virtual identity given to a proprietary platform can be.”
Facebook of course hasn't been too pleased with the developments thus far, "Scraping people's information violates our terms," said Barry Schnitt, Facebook's director of policy communications. "We have taken, and will continue to take, aggressive legal action against organizations that violate these terms. We're investigating this site and will take appropriate action."
According to Facebook's terms of service, websites or companies wanting to collect data from its users need to apply for permission from Facebook first.
The duo said that the site is not intended for any kind of monetary gain and that they will remove user's profiles if they request it. The profiles were randomly sourced from Facebook by the sounds of it, although the website was down when we tried to check if some of our profiles may have slipped in.