Lovely Faces is an Internet "dating" site that isn't really about dating at all. If you're scratching your head wondering what that means, put it this way: it's entirely possible that you're online dating right now without your consent or knowledge. Shocking, right?
It really shouldn't be. Lovely-Faces.com is a mock dating website that has pulled 250,000 public Facebook profiles without permission (gasp!). According to Wired, this is an elaborate, "artistic" attempt to bring down Facebook.
The site, which is down as of 8:30 a.m. February 8, features profiles — names, locations, and photos — culled from publicly accessible Facebook pages. The site uses a facial recognition algorithm to put people in categories so searchers can seek out people who are “easy going,” “smug,” or “sly.” But you can also search for people’s real names. Oh lord! Break out the freak out!
No doubt it's disturbing, but we're living in a new era and constantly whining about loss of privacy. Being told to be "careful what you share on the Internet" is starting to get a bit old.
Of course, creators Paolo Cirio, a media artist, and Alessandro Ludovico, media critic and editor in chief of Neural magazine, are channeling Mark Zuckerberg in their attempt to ruin him. Back in 2003, the Zuck scraped the names and photos of fellow Harvard classmates off school servers in order to create FaceMash. These were the early seeds of Facebook.
So, not only are they obvious, they are also unoriginal. According to Wired:
"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," the two explain. "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." And, the duo speculate, if people pull hard enough on that bothersome thread, Facebook’s $50 billion valuation will unravel.
We live in a new age. It's an age where people share online and off. Yes, there is Facebook and the myriad possibilities for identity theft it brings to the table, but there are also countless memoirs on the rack at Borders. Type the word "memoir" into Amazon and you will get more than 160,000 search results. We live in the age of Dr. Phil and reality television. The "overshare" is no longer relevant. And what is so wrong with knowing things about one another?
Information is a good thing. Despite this, if you want to protect yourself, learn your privacy settings, set your profile to unsearchable, limit your friend count to only people you know in real life. But don't blame Facebook for this. Here was their statement:
"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."
If you are walking down a dark city alley in a dangerous neighborhood late at night while you are intoxicated, it's absolutely not your fault if you get mugged or worse. But you probably wouldn't do that, right? You would probably protect yourself. So do the same online.
Don't stop sharing. But do protect what you share, and if your privacy settings are set to public, then expect strangers to know your business. If you care, change it. But don't blame Facebook.
Do you think this is Facebook's fault?
Image via English106/Flickr