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February 08, 2011

Site steals 250,000 Facebook profiles to raise awareness of online ID theft

Interesting way to raise awareness of the risks of online identity theft - article is by Michelle Castillo and can be found at

You might be signed up for's dating services and not only know it. Website creators Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico took information from 250,000 Facebook users and used it to create their project which uses facial recognition technology to categorize users into the kinds of people they look like they would be. Problem is they didn't ask permission first from the profile owners, but they claim since it's part of a "social experiment" it should be fine.

The site's not really a dating site. On Face to Facebook, the minds behind explain that the website was created to prove how virtual identity is increasingly unstable when you consider how easy identity theft is online and how companies can easily take advantage of this information, with or without Facebook's permission. On the Theory section of the website, they elaborate:

And it'll eventually mutate, from a plausible translation of real identities into virtual management, to something just for fun, with no assumed guarantee of trust, crumbling the whole market evaluation hysteria that surrounds the crowded, and much hyped, online social platforms.

Facebook isn't pleased with this use of their data, even though promises that they will remove anyone who wants their picture taken off the site. “Scraping people's information violates our terms,” Facebook's director of policy communications Barry Schnitt said to 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.”

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