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Site Pilfers 250,000 Facebook Profiles

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    Face to Facebook

    Don't remember signing up for dating site  Lovely-Faces.com? That may be because the two creators of the site took the information off of 250,000 publicly available Facebook pages.

    The two creators, Paolo Cirio, a media artist, and Alessandro Ludovic, have a lot to say about why they did it, but it's a bit meandering -- mainly that they did it as a public art project and as a way to destroy Facebook. Here's a sample:

    So any user can easily duplicate any personal picture on his/her hard disk and then upload it somewhere else with different data. The final step is to be aware that almost everything posted online can have a different life if simply recontextualized. . . .

    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. 

    The duo took the information and photos off of public Facebook pages, a method called "scraping," and then re-used it for their own purposes. They used facial recognition programs to catalog faces as "sly" or "easy going"  but people can also be looked up by name. Unfortunately, the two were supposed to get Facebook's permission before taking the data. (The site also now appears to down.)

    "Scraping people's information violates our terms," Barry Schnitt, Facebook's director of policy communications told Wired. "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."

    Readers should at least check out their explanation site because it's such a strange amalgam of graphic design, art and philosophy. Its streak of madness reminds me of a neo-Futurist manifesto, if one could be written by someone in designer clothes.