Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dating site steals data from Facebook to school the network

Back in his Harvard days, Mark Zuckerberg was busted by campus administration for stealing co-ed picture and name data from school servers in order to launch FaceMash. Zuckerberg was slapped with charges of data theft tantamount to identity theft. Now that Zuckerberg’s Facebook is the biggest name in online social media, a couple of activists with an internet dating website think he nevertheless has a lesson to find out about information security. Cirio and Ludovico’s social research dating website called Lovely Faces recently went online after scraping 250,000 Facebook profiles for names, locations and pictures – and Facebook is likely to sue. Facebook already makes so much money that they most likely won’t need personel loans to take this company to court.

Lovely-Faces.com – Take ‘em and tag ‘em

Lovely Faces doesn't have the authorization needed in order to make the categories of "easy going," "smug" and "sly" with the images from Facebook. User data is stolen to do this as well. Cirio and Ludovico are worried about the legality of it all. This is because they used Facebook user's actual names as well. The idea that it’s acceptable to put personal information on online social media is what is being challenged by Lovely Faces. They claim not to be a business venture, says Wired.

"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," write the Lovely Faces founders on Face to Facebook. "And (we’ll see) how fragile enormous capitalization based on exploiting social systems can be."

What Cirio and Ludovico aim to do to Facebook and any other large-scale monetized online social system is shine a light on the cracks inherent in the system. In the early 2000s, many dot coms were falling because of the burst bubble with the over-hyped stock evaluations. The point is to make these networks crumble in the same way.

How Lovely Faces makes Facebook feel about it

Barry Schnitt, the Director of Policy Communications at Facebook, insists that scraping user data violates the social network’s terms of service. Thus, Facebook is currently investigating Lovely-Faces.com before taking legal action. Facebook has sued others before, such as the online protection research firm Skull Security after it released 100 million Facebook user names and profile addresses. It’s possible that Zuckerberg is up for another suit.

Articles cited

Face to Facebook


New York Times




Dating on Facebook with Flyness: No illegal action required


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