Dating site steals 250,000 Facebook profiles

Posted by Mark Raby

If you made any of your Facebook profile information publicly accessible for all to see, there's a good chance you are already a potential mate on Lovely-Faces.com. The only problem if you've never heard of that site.

The self-described online "dating agency" launched this week, and it already has a quarter of a million profiles. But then again that's pretty easy to do when you just run an algorithm to transfer over all the public profiles you can find on Facebook.

Now, Facebook is lashing out against the online start-up, fuming at the fact that it could face a serious privacy backlash over this.

"Scraping people's information violates our terms. 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," said Facebook director of policy communications Barry Schnitt.

Now, the pair of Web designers who made Lovely-Faces.com is arguing it only pulled the data to show it was possible, and claim it's an expression of "art" in the digital profile era.

"Facebook, an endlessly cool place for so many people, becomes at the same time a goldmine for identity theft and dating -- unfortunately, without the user's control. But that's the very nature of Facebook and social media in general. 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," said Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovic, the duo in question.

It's kind of ironic, because as anyone who's seen The Social Network could tell you, the entire concept of Facebook began when Mark Zuckerberg stole personal data about students that was stored on university databases.

Nevertheless, Cirio and Ludovic say they'll remove anyone's profile if they're asked to, and insist it's more of a prank than anything else. But knowing how power-hungry Facebook is, they may have to pay for this prank.