One more reason to fortify your privacy settings on Facebook: Artists.
Two Italian provocateurs launched a fake dating site this week by scraping 250,000 Facebook profiles without the users' (or Facebook's) knowledge.
LovelyFaces.com is a database of names, locations and profile pictures scraped from publicly-accessible Facebook profiles.
Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovic grouped the faces into several categories, including “easy-going,” “funny,” “smug,” or “sly.” Visitors to the site can search “dates” by the personality types the artists have ascribed to them, or simply search by name. Once you've found someone you like, you can actually click through to their Facebook profile and message them.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook is hopping mad.
“Scraping people’s information violates our terms,” Barry Schnitt, Facebook’s director of policy communications told Wired.
“We’re investigating this site and will take appropriate action.”
The artists said they would take down a profile if a person asked. They explained that the project was meant to convey - albeit in very annoying terms - how easy it is to exploit a virtual identity.
“Facebook data become letters of an unauthorized alphabet to be used to narrate real identities or new identities, forming new characters on a new background. And this is a potentially open process that anybody can undertake,” the two wrote in their artists' statement.
“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.”