Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Is your facebook safe?

Facebook, one of the largest social networking sites available today, is taking action against a newly created site called Lovely Faces. Lovely Faces is an online dating site that was created as a way to demonstrate how easily data is misused that is placed on different sites, such as Facebook. This dating site features 250,000 profiles of men and women, whose personal information and photos were "scraped" off different social networking sites and used without their permission. Paolo Cirio, an Italian media artist, and Alessandro Ludovico, a media critic and editor in chief of Neural magazine in Italy, are Lovely Faces' creators. These two admitted to using an automated bot program to systematically scrape personal and public information from 1 million Facebook profiles.

Through a different PDF file, provided in the news article, the creators explained their thought process. They thought that, after downloading and scraping all of these different people's profiles, that they had it all figured out. They knew what the people on these networking sites really wanted. They thought that these people were on these networking sites because they wanted to attract new people, begin new relationships, and receive love through their digital traits. Although this may hold to be true, Cirio and Ludovico also came up with the idea that these people were trapped in Facebook's privacy rules and regulations. Their idea of creating Lovely Faces was to give these virtual identities a place to expose themselves freely, and they could break away from Facebook's "constraints and boring social rules."

When the data and information was scraped from the different profiles, it was downloaded into a database and run through a face recognition software program that would group the different individuals in different categories. These categories were based on their facial expressions, such as "easy going", "funny", "mild", and "smug". The two creators stated that Lovely Faces demonstrates how awesome social networks can also be seen as a "goldmine" for identity theft. Facebook states that they have, and will continue, to take legal action against organizations that violate their terms. They say that they have already demanded that Lovely Faces delete the collected data, and they will continue to be on top of this.

It is scary sometimes how easily your personal information can be stolen, but what some people don't understand is that whenever you put something on the internet, whether you intend on it being private, it is public. It isn't hard to hack into someone's account, as shown through Cirio and Ludovico. They basically turned these people into interested men and women, who were looking for a relationship. When in turn, they really weren't. It is interesting how often things like this happen, but disappointing that we need to be more protective of what we let loose online. 

Article Name: Duo scrapes 1M Facebook profiles to create mock 'dating' site

By Jaikumar Vijayan

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