Dating Startup Steals One Million Profiles From Facebook

LovelyFaces.com appears to have pulled its dating site. It launched earlier this week with 250,000 profiles curated out of one million stolen from Facebook.

We’ve asked Facebook what its legal plans are regarding LovelyFaces.com, which appears to have pulled its dating site. It launched earlier this week with 250,000 profiles stolen from the social network without members’ permission.

Wired reported that the online dating startup publicly discloses that the profiles come from Facebook. The LovelyFaces.com, Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico, say on their corporate site, Face to Facebook:

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.

The founders’ Face to Facebook page includes a reasonably visible link labeled “legal,” where they say:

If your identity has been hurt by this website, just write to us and we’ll remove your data instantly. This website is a work of art and we’re committed to avoiding any related annoyances.

This promise to remove data got complicated for the site’s founders as the media drew attention to the homepage long after LovelyFaces.net went down. Alessandro Ludovico wrote to us asking if we could remove one profile image and name from the image you see below because an individual had requested that the founders pull his likeness from the database.

Such efforts would certainly help the founders’ legal defense. So would phrases like “work of art.” That combined with their location in Berlin will make them challenging defendants in any court of law that Facebook will likely invite them to appear.

The social network’s terms of service prohibits taking content from profiles without users’ permission; and while those rules enable Facebook to successfully pursue violators in U.S. court, getting a lawsuit going outside of the country can be tricky.

That might explain the two founders’ candor about their practices. The duo put out a press release yesterday explaining that they actually stole one million profiles from Facebook and ran them through facial recognition software. The application analyzed people’s facial features and extracted the 250,000 best-looking people.

The release made it sound like LovelyFaces was doing the 250,000 people a favor by putting their likenesses on the site, presuming that they even need the services of an online dating application.

What do you think about LovelyFaces and the way it violated Facebook’s terms of service?