September 30, 2013
Faces Of Facebook App Displays All 1.26B User Profile Pics
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Faces of Facebook is a web app created for any Facebooker who’s ever wondered about their place in the vast, sweeping expanses of the world's largest social network. Freelancer and self-proclaimed Creative Technologist Natalia Rojas has created the app which places each of Facebook’s 1.26 billion users in chronological order and displays the corresponding profile pictures in a large grid. The resulting image resembles a piece of confusing pointillism, of course, but Rojas says each point represents one of Facebook’s many users.
Clicking anywhere on the site zooms in to that specific area and pulls up a grid of larger images. Clicking in the extreme top left hand corner brings up face number one belonging to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Those looking to exercise their vanity can enter in their Facebook credentials to have the grid snap to their location. Rojas says this little project falls completely within Facebook’s privacy policies because it doesn’t store any data.
“We’ve just found a harmless way to show 1,271,481,322 Facebook profile pictures and organize them in chronological order,” writes Rojas on the site. It seems likely Rojas created this project as a way to entice potential employers and contractors to hire her services. Rojas also worked for Swedish automaker Volvo on an app that allows users to point their mobile devices at a competitor’s vehicle to learn which Volvo innovations appear in that specific vehicle.
The app looks mostly as one might expect it would. The tiny icons are representative of selfies, popular sports cars, pictures of babies, soccer team logos, memes and the occasional cat - all profile pictures likely representative of any user’s list of friends.
It’s easy to spend more than a few minutes playing with the site and looking at a world of faces for a glimpse of a recognizable face. Yet looking for one specific face without giving the app specific information is more akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Rojas says this method is harmless and doesn’t store any private data. While there’s no reason to mistrust Rojas, Facebook’s poor history with data privacy may cause some to take extra care when it comes to handing out their username and password.
For instance, Facebook recently changed their terms of service to give them the right to use facial recognition technology on users’ profile pictures. Unless a user goes through and manually opts out of this feature, Facebook’s facial recognition software will scan the face in the profile picture and begin looking for that face among friends’ pictures. If the software thinks it’s found a user’s face in an uploaded picture, it will recommend that the uploader tag the user in the photo.
Facebook also recently settled a class action lawsuit for using profile pictures in advertisements without their users’ expressed permission.