Is artistic turn-about legal fair play?
Lovely-Faces.com is a faux dating website that contains profiles using pictures, names and locations “scraped” from Facebook.
The website takes pictures of people off Facebook, without obtaining consent, and through a face algorithm approach, puts them into categories of “smug, sly, easy-going” and “funny.”
Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovic, who describe themselves as a media artist and media critic, respectively, say they created the site to reveal the pitfalls and controversy of social networking, mainly the issues of people sharing personal information through social media. The creator’s write about their theory of Facebook.
“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, and how fragile enormous capitalization based on exploiting social systems can be.”
Despite this threat, Cirio and Ludovic — who have taken down Lovely-Faces but still send viewers to their commentary site — are playing up the “fair use” angle of their project. They say Lovely-Faces.com is art, not commerce and note that if any individual Facebook users ask for their information to be taken down, they will do so.
They note the irony of Facebook’s reaction since it is part of company history that founder Mark Zuckerburg, as a Harvard undergraduate, scraped photos and names off his school’s servers without permission in 2003 to create a “hot or not” website that became a predecessor to his multibillion-dollar enterprise.