New dating site Lovely-Faces.com launched with over 250,000 member profiles, but rather than being a promising launch for a heavily-populated future, it turned out the site was basically a prank; one that happened to scrape all of their “launch member” profiles from Facebook (including names, locations and photos), then reuse them on the fake dating site.
Media artist Paulo Cirio and media critic and editor-in-chief of Neural magazine Alessandro Ludovic, the duo behind Lovely-Faces.com, claim the site is “art,” rather than an actual dating site. Their reasoning for creating the dating site and pilfering random Facebook profiles–without Facebook users’ permission–is more of a demonstration showing how fragile a virtual identity can be:
“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.”
Even though the fake dating site’s scraping of Facebook data was supposedly an experiment to show how fragile a virtual identity can be, Cirio and Ludovic still scraped Facebook data, and Facebook isn’t too happy with that. Director of policy communications Barry Schnitt:
“Scraping people’s information violates our terms. 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.”
As Wired points out in their article, it’s a little hypocritical of Facebook to be mad at the “artists,” considering Facebook got its start when Mark Zuckerberg scraped Harvard student pictures for his original site that eventually led to Facebook, FaceMash.