Face to Facebook is a database of one million stolen Facebook profiles filtered with the help of face‐recognition software, and then uploaded to a customized dating website.
Liberating personal data as Facebook’s exclusive property is the idea behind the newly launched Face to Facebook, a collaborative project by media artist, Paolo Cirio and media critic, Alessandro Ludovico. The duo spent months downloading public information from one million Facebook profiles, creating a database of hundreds of thousands of profile pictures where they were “intoxicated by the endless smiles, gazes and often leering expressions.” The accumulation of data that continuously fed the Face to Facebook database was the result of a sophisticated face recognition algorithm. The software sorted the profile photos into specific social categories (inferred by analyzing facial expressions) and uploaded them to a dating website with a public URL named Lovely Faces.
Lovely Faces is based upon the possibility of being face-to-face with anyone who is attracted to your facial expression and related data. The hope is to create a “free relationships” interface. Mission accomplished, since the mission with the Face to Facebook project was to break Facebook’s social rules and limitations by giving the stolen virtual identities a new shared place to express themselves freely. According to the team:
“All that people wanted was to attract new people, have more relationships, to express and receive love through their digital traits. But they were trapped by Facebook owning their data and restricting their actions with primitive privacy rules.”
We asked Paolo some questions about the project:
This project really takes a hard look at Facebook’s privacy rules by liberating personal data, do you think people will feel comfortable about this idea that their personal property is being used as a dating service?
Once users accepted to be in Facebook and so putting all their trust in it, they should give for granted that their personal data could be used by everyone for other purposes. We are artists, and we do provoking artworks, Facebook data is used by much worse entity than us, I would like to ask to people if they feel comfortable with this.
What prompted you to launch an endeavor like this?
It’s social experiment, I have always been interested in the power of information, and exploring how data can be sculpted to create new structures, which have potential for changing and influencing society effectively. So I consider this project as a sculpture, as most of my art works.
Face to Facebook is the third work in a series that started with Google Will Eat Itself and Amazon Noir. All three employ similar strategies, with the use of customized software to create conceptual hacks that generate unexpected flaws in the aforementioned companies systems.
See a video explanation below: