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'Dating' Site Imports 250k Facebook Profiles 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the privacy-is-so-2005 dept.
mark72005 sends this snippet from Wired: "How does a unknown dating site, with the absurd intention of destroying Facebook, launch with 250,000 member profiles on the first day? Simple. You scrape data from Facebook. At least, that's the approach taken by two provocateurs who launched Lovely-Faces.com this week, with profiles — names, locations and photos — scraped from publicly accessible Facebook pages. The site categorizes these unwitting volunteers into personality types, using a facial recognition algorithm, so you can search for someone in your general area who is 'easy going,' 'smug' or 'sly.' ... [The creators] say they will take down a user’s profile if a person asks, and the site doesn’t have any indication they are actually trying to make any money. Instead, it’s part of a series of prank sites, the first two of which aimed at Google and Amazon, intended to make people think more about data in the age of internet behemoths. Moreover, it’s a bit funny hearing Facebook complain about scraping of personal data that is quasi-public."
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'Dating' Site Imports 250k Facebook Profiles

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  • Sounds like a great idea, just waiting for the lawyers to get involved to make it official.
    • Aren't photos copyrighted? So wouldn't this be a trillion dollar copyright violation?
      Oh wait, we learned that copyright vio gets cheaper in bulk.

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Oh wait, we learned that copyright vio gets cheaper in bulk.

        Depends on your level of citizenship. The bottom rung of citizenship is actually the opposite since the cost of infringement is a geometric progression with the cr being the size of largest penis on the music labels payroll. Which does explain why some NBA members have titles like "director of creative stuff".

        Of course the premium level of citizenship, or the C-Corp level, gets fantastic discounts on such violations and in some cases gets a saving throw based on the number of Senators under their influenc

        • RANDOM ENCOUNTER!
          You face a -dead hooker in the trunk
          Roll a felony saving throw with a -3 media frenzy penalty
      • Sorry, nothing can be done about this because copyright is evil and "information wants to be free!"
    • Re:More Please.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:49PM (#35106288)
      Gee, what are the chances that the Facebook Terms of Service explicitly forbids scraping all the profile data and using it on another website? These two guys are probably going to have their Facebook accounts canceled! Other than that, I'm not sure what recourse Facebook has.
      • by v1 (525388)

        >Other than that, I'm not sure what recourse Facebook has.

        If they agreed to those TOS and then violated them, possibly quite a lot.

        Not that I'm even slightly a fan of 88 page long TOS "by clicking here I agree I've read and accept all of the above" agreements, they are often enforceable.

        • Uh...if you breach the terms of service, then you can no longer use the service. Wow, no facebook?? sounds AWFUL
          • by v1 (525388)

            agreeing to TOS forms a contract. it tens to be disputable, but you're agreeing to something in exchange for using the service.

            In such a contract, if you then receive the benefit of their service, and they do not in exchange receive the benefit of your honoring the terms, that's grounds for damages. It doesn't merely entitle them to dump you, they can sue for breach of contract and damages. If your dishonoring of the terms causes provable harm, (for example but not limited to monetary or reputation/brand

        • by Katsury (1714110)

          Not that I'm even slightly a fan of 88 page long TOS "by clicking here I agree I've read and accept all of the above" agreements, they are often enforceable.

          I have to wonder how much their lawyers get paid to take apart an 88 page book and find loopholes/defenses in it to use against the other party.

          • ...such as "This is being used as satire" -- protected speech, use of IP, and all that.

            Now, people in countries that have stricter personal information laws than the US might be able to sue both organizations (FB for leaking PII and these other guys for publishing without notification).

        • It possibly depends on whether they had to accept it to view the profiles or not. I can view this guy [facebook.com]'s name, photo, some fiends and 'likes' without having to explicitly agree to any ToS.

          • by Arccot (1115809)

            It possibly depends on whether they had to accept it to view the profiles or not. I can view this guy [facebook.com]'s name, photo, some fiends and 'likes' without having to explicitly agree to any ToS.

            That's a bit different, though. You haven't agreed to the TOS, and as such Facebook hasn't agreed to provide you a license to copy the photo. I would think its either a copyright violation if they never agreed to the TOS, or a contract violation if they did.

          • by vlueboy (1799360)

            FB turned 7 years old yesterday (+/- 1 day). It's cringe-worthy that up till year 6 FB still had a pivacy "bug" where such-like protected pages could be farmed to get all their friends' names by just refreshing. One the plus side, it really helped when the person didn't show their picture and had an ambiguous name.

      • Assuming they're members of FB in the first place -- since the profiles are publicly available.
      • by Galestar (1473827)
        Who's to say that these people agreed to their TOS?
    • by Seumas (6865)

      I'm going to go rob your house. But don't worry, it's just a prank to teach you about alarm systems.

  • Why not just make it a facebook app? Is there any rule that you have to use facebook's APIs to gather data for your app?
    • by nlawalker (804108) on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:44PM (#35106226)

      itâ(TM)s part of a series of prank sites, the first two of which aimed at Google and Amazon, intended to make people think more about data in the age of internet behemoths

      Making it a Facebook app would have largely defeated the point. The impact is made greater by removing the data from the context of Facebook entirely and putting it up somewhere else in another context.

      • by memnock (466995)

        I know /. has more than 250,000 accounts, but wouldn't it be great if they could do a Mashup of the Facebook accounts and random /.ers? Commander Sarah Palin Taco.

        Of course, /. might lose some traffic if some of their members actually start getting out of the basement and dating.

        • by Stregano (1285764)
          One step at a time here. I am working on the basement part.
          • by gnapster (1401889)
            I tried that, once. Got a nosebleed.
            • by Cwix (1671282)

              Try little balls of toilet paper stuck up your nose, and bring gum. They both help with the altitude difference.

              • by gnapster (1401889)
                Aha. I will have to give that a shot next time. Need to find the stairs again, though. It has been quite some time since my last attempt.
                • by Cwix (1671282)

                  Wow, you don't know where the stairs are? How does your mom deliver Doritos, Mountain Dew, and pizza?

                  • by gnapster (1401889)
                    She uses the dumbwaiter, but I haven't been able to fit in there for 35 years.
                    • by Cwix (1671282)

                      Send a note up the dumbwaiter, perhaps they can start an excavation to get down the stairs. :)

                    • by gnapster (1401889)
                      Don't have anything to write with! :/ I sent an email, though. She usually checks it within a week.
        • by Culture20 (968837)

          I know /. has more than 250,000 accounts, but wouldn't it be great if they could do a Mashup of the Facebook accounts and random /.ers? Commander Sarah Palin Taco.

          Of course, /. might lose some traffic if some of their members actually start getting out of the basement and dating.

          If Commander Taco was really Sarah Palin, I'd date her, except she's married.

    • Honestly, I don't know why they didn't. I half expected the article to say that some game that 95% of my friends have been playing for 2 years was actually a front for gathering data for this dating site.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:44PM (#35106210)

    But if someones wife happens along and sees their spouse on a new dating site there's gonna be hell to pay for this particular " joke"

    • by Korin43 (881732) on Friday February 04, 2011 @03:25PM (#35106604) Homepage

      If your wife trusts a random website over you, then your relationship has more serious problems than this.

      • Not to mention the fact that wife is going to need to explain what she was doing on new dating site in the first place. Of course, maybe it will all be for the better, like that song about liking piña colada.
      • by 6ULDV8 (226100)

        Or, "if your wife is cruising date sites and sees you, maybe you should take the hint that she's already done with you."

    • by gnapster (1401889)

      If my wife gets on my case, I'll just ask her why she is on the site, too!

      Actually, my wife's profile info is more likely than mine to show up on such a site, because of our respective privacy settings.

    • by ptbarnett (159784)
      My wife would be amused if she found that, because the only public picture on my Facebook profile includes BOTH of us.
  • Isn't this how facebook got its initial data too? By scraping the websites of Universities for student profiles.

    • Isn't this how facebook got its initial data too? By scraping the websites of Universities for student profiles.

      No. It started by only allowing university students with specific .edu addresses to join, starting with only Harvard and then expanding to more and more colleges before they finally opened it up to High School students and then anyone. It was limited to universities because Zuckerburg's own social network was a university and they are a good target demographic, not because they had pages to pre-scrape user data from. To my knowledge no college would post such user data on a public website anyways as it'd

      • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday February 04, 2011 @03:10PM (#35106468)

        No, this is how it started:

        According to The Harvard Crimson, the site was comparable to Hot or Not, and "used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the 'hotter' person".

        Mark Zuckerberg co-created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room.
        To accomplish this, Zuckerberg hacked into the protected areas of Harvard's computer network, and copied the houses' private dormitory ID images. Harvard at that time did not have a student "facebook" (a directory with photos and basic information). Facemash attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours online.

        From Wiki, with sources linked on it.

        / And seriously slashdot, still no italics? WTF.

        • by foobsr (693224)
          And seriously slashdot, still no italics? WTF.

          Nerd.

          CC.
        • The <i> tag has been deprecated for quite a while now. Use the <em> tag instead.

          Slashdot apparently felt like enforcing the switch... although the old D1 comment posting page still says that <i> is an allowed HTML tag. (Granted, I don't think they maintain the D1 pages much.)

        • Here you are :)
        • One of the many "newstyle" fuckups.  You need a user style to fix this (and to actually emphasis quotes):

          i
          {
          font-style: italic !important;

          }

          .quote
          {
          font-style: italic !important;
          background-color:#E1E1E1;
          }

  • by sabrex15 (746201) on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:45PM (#35106232)
    Already /.ed... jeeze. With 250,000 "users" they should be able to handle a small slashdotting, right?
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:45PM (#35106244)
    It's seems their "facial recognition algorithm" has categorized me as a "stalker" and "potential date-rapist"!
    • "[He] called me a 'rapist' and a 'recluse.' I'm not a recluse."
    • It's seems their "facial recognition algorithm" has categorized me as a "stalker" and "potential date-rapist"!

      Oh, just date rapist, not a forcible rapist [gawker.com]? Don't worry, half the chicks out there (the ones who vote Republican) won't see that as red flag.

    • by uncanny (954868)

      It's seems their "facial recognition algorithm" has categorized me as a "stalker" and "potential date-rapist"!

      or they were using your criminal record

  • by shia84 (1985626) on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:46PM (#35106250)
    Those people running the site behind the "make people think more about data" link should be made to think more about server capacity
  • Microsoft copies Google and they copy Facebook :)
  • I believe (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is illegal in pretty much every country on earth who has laws, it's called identity theft, making false profiles on behalf of someone is without doubt the stupidest idea I've ever heard of when trying to make a point. And on top of that state that "you can contact us if you want your profile removed". No scrubs, it should say "you can contact us if you want us to have your picture and profile on the lamest site of the century".

    • by alen (225700)

      once in a while i get friend invites from people all over the world i've never met. i ignore them. i guess that's how they got access to people's facebook profiles.

      annoying thing about gmail is that it will add people to your contact list only if you were on a receive list for a big email. one time as a joke i sent invites to everyone who i had an email address for in my gmail. most people i've never met. a lot of people accepted blindly

  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:51PM (#35106314)
    The Social Network movie captured the original Zuckerberg hack described [thecrimson.com] in the Harvard Crimson. They just did it on a larger scale.
    • by Stregano (1285764)
      What's wrong zucky-poo? Mad that somebody is making a FREE site using easier and more public techniques, but essentially doing the same thing you did to get rich? Don't play dirty unless you fully expect others to do it right back to you.
    • by neoform (551705)

      More like Facebook itself.

      Zuckerberg scraped all the photos from the Harvard directories when he first launched facebook... without consent of course.

      • More like Facebook itself.

        Zuckerberg scraped all the photos from the Harvard directories when he first launched facebook... without consent of course.

        You are confusing FaceMash, which did do this, with "TheFacebook" (later just "Facebook"), which did not. The two, aside from both being created by Zuckerberg and both including the word "Face" in the name, are not related. Everything that was on the site when facebook launched was provided by the actual students.

  • Porn star profiles (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:54PM (#35106342)

    When I was a member of Yahoo Personals, I was always sure to report users who had photos of famous porn stars for their profiles. Then I found out that Yahoo was responsible for the fake profiles:
      http://plentyoffish.wordpress.com/2007/08/30/yahoo-class-action-lawsuit-settled/ [wordpress.com]

    Apparently, dating sites are still playing the same old game.

    • by Spykk (823586)
      Be that as it may I think you should continue researching the physical attributes of famous porn stars. Just in case.
  • I think someone just saw the social network and wanted to make their own facemash.com
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday February 04, 2011 @02:57PM (#35106374) Homepage

    A dating site's value is directly correlated with how many other members sign up. Ergo a new competitor trying to get into the big-picture marketplace either needs to create fictional people to attract members, or they need to pull in people who didn't intend to sign up to get things going.

    Mark Zuckerberg, for all his many faults, started the right way - serve a tiny market that generally is looking for other people in that market.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      You're missing the point - the creators are doing this as a prank. They intended it to feel weird because they think people need to realize how much information they're giving away to the entire world on Facebook and other public pages.

    • by neoform (551705)

      Mark Zuckerberg, for all his many faults, started the right way...

      .... by taking the photos of every student at Harvard (without permission or consent) and adding them to facebook.

      • i know this has been corrected before, but you are thinking of facemash, not thefacebook.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Pretty sure this is the fourth post of yours accusing Zuckerberg of taking photos for Facebook without permission. As you have been corrected in all the other posts, he did not do this with Facebook at all, but instead did this with "FaceMash."
  • So, DTF?

  • Error message on the site that it could not access the table 'facefacebknew.searched_keys'
    • by drpimp (900837)
      They seem to have deleted a table (or someone did it for them???)
      • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

        Yikes, that would be terrible... they'd have to re-scrape all that publicly available data all over again...

        (Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time...)

  • by Suffering Bastard (194752) on Friday February 04, 2011 @03:17PM (#35106528)
    At first I thought the summary said "Lovely-Feces.com" and I got nervous wondering if I remembered to lock down my Poo Pix Daily Journal. I don't think you wanna scrape that.
  • by buckeyeguy (525140) on Friday February 04, 2011 @03:24PM (#35106596) Homepage Journal
    The quarter-million fake accounts here can reply to the presumably equal number of fakes on match.com. Pardon me while I go register DNS names for virtual wedding sites; they're sure to be a hit!
  • Funny that. If you go their homepage, the statistics search has an error, which reads: Last keywords searched: Errore : 1146: Table 'facefacebknew.searched_keys' doesn't exist They're not even trying!
  • Let's see, statutory minimum $500 damages in California for commercial use of your image without permission, times number of women in California on Facebook...

    • It hardly could be considered commercial because it was done as a joke and no money is changing hands.
    • by JTsyo (1338447)
      It's not a commercial site though. They don't collect any money, so not even a not-for-profit.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe little bobby tables got added in the mix.

    http://xkcd.com/327/

  • Why would anyone want to use Lovely-faces.com anyway? The response rate for people sending out messages to these 250,000 members has got to be zero. I'm not really interested in dating someone who doesn't respond to messages and won't talk to me, so the site's totally useless.

    • The response rate for people sending out messages to these 250,000 members has got to be zero

      Not really. It doesn't take a genius to craft up some boilerplate emails to send out to people for an initial contact. An automated script could easily handle that.

      And you have to keep in mind the human factor, that even with a few nibbles, someone on a dating site is more than likely going to have the mindset of 'Im sure the NEXT one will be it'... There's always a 'next one' after all. People tend to have a hard time realizing when they are being 'duped', and will usually not admit to themselves, theref

  • Sites like this are going to keep coming, here is another that is doing close to the same thing. http:\\secureyourfacebook.com
  • http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:9OtAvuobLwgJ:www.okcupid.com/z/yf2 [googleusercontent.com]

    This article was originally posted on Hackers News, but its a great story

    • A friend of mine linked me to this article the other day. Really interesting and true from my experience as well although I will say this though. Its written by the makers of okcupid and is written to suggest you should sign up there
  • Unethical? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FrootLoops (1817694) on Friday February 04, 2011 @05:13PM (#35107408)

    Perhaps I'm in the minority, but why exactly is this unethical? The data is publicly available and TFA's screenshot (the real site is apparently /.'d) only says "[Lovely Faces] lists real people, sincerely positing their real data and picture" which is not a lie (modulo marketing exaggeration that everyone seems to be happy glossing over) as these people posted their data to Facebook. Suppose for a moment there was no implication whatsoever that the people listed on Lovely Faces intentionally signed up. In that case, what's wrong with collecting publicly available data and putting it into one site? Is the issue entirely that people expect dating site profiles to have been created by that person, and Lovely Faces doesn't smash that expectation?

    Scraping data violates Facebook's Automated Data Collection Terms [facebook.com], though in what way are those binding? I don't have to explicitly agree to anything to view some information, like certain profile's pictures.

    I agree it is unethical to take someone's picture, point at it, and say "this person endorses this site" when they actually don't. It doesn't seem unethical to take someone's picture and put it on "the online database of pictures of people". Most people seem to be saying the scraping itself was unethical, while I disagree. I think it's just the implied endorsement.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Suppose for a moment there was no implication whatsoever that the people listed on Lovely Faces intentionally signed up.

      This supposition greatly changes the situation; it's no longer the same question. As others have stated, this site is billing itself as a dating site. If I'm happily married, and a single friend of mine happens to see my face on this site, it would be reasonable for them to assume that I'm a cheating scumbag. This has real consequences for real people. They do not have the right to imply that I signed up for their service, and this is not a minor point.

      Even with your supposition, "the data is publicly a

  • by Nyder (754090) on Friday February 04, 2011 @08:43PM (#35108890) Journal

    I have my cat's pick on my facebook pic, now i'm going to get a ton of furry peeps wanting dates.

    Guess I better get Second Life up and running.

  • Offer an easy way out, but make it so interesting that the person will see this as a free dating site like eHarmony and think they have free access, and not want to remove their profile...leaving yuo with an instant 250k new users...smart, very smart.

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.

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