‘Face to Facebook’ is a mixed media installation that critiques on the lack of privacy on Facebook. It focuses on how easily our digital identity can be stolen, as well as how big corporations exploit these stolen identities to make profit. For this project, one million Facebook profiles were stolen and filtered through a face-recognition software. These profiles were then posted on a custom dating website. Since the website is about online dating, users can make a real-life connection with those they are attracted to base on the picture and data alone. The fact that Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico were able to execute this project on such a large scale proved how ‘tight’ Facebook’s privacy security is.
“We build up our own versions of meaningful life through the choices we make.”
– D.E. Wittkower, ‘A Reply to Facebook Critics’
This quote by D.E. Wittkower refers to the fact that it is up to us to give meaning to the actions we make. In the current social media age, this can be applied to our digital identity and how we want others to perceive us. Our digital identity is not made up of just personal information of ourselves, such as where we live or what our profession is, it is also made up of our posts and statuses. For example, if I often post photos of myself eating healthy and working out at the gym, it gives others the impression that I am a health-conscious person. This can also help us to identify with other like-minded people and form an online community together. Therefore, it is safe to say that what we post on social media is often carefully curated so that we can control how others perceive us.
“[Face to Facebook] talks about the consequences of posting sensitive personal data on social network platforms, and especially the consequences in real life. These consequences are always underestimated because we still instinctively tend to confine what we do online in the visual space of the screen.”
– Face to Facebook website
The big revelation is that what we do online will eventually affect us in real life. While we are busy projecting a ‘perfect’ image of ourselves online, we are unaware that our digital identity can be stolen and exploited. ‘Face to Facebook’ gave the perfect example of identity theft by taking unsuspecting Facebook users’ profiles and signing them up for a dating website without their permission. It is scary because we are now no longer in control of the personal information that we have put up online.
Recently, a Facebook friend of mine encountered an incident of Facebook identity theft. The thief stole her pictures and mimicked her real profile. As I am not a close friend of hers, I am unable to tell the real and fake account apart. However, she is fortunate to have friends who know her well enough to be able to tell that the fake account is not actually her and inform her about this.
In conclusion, it is important to be aware that putting our personal information on social media grant us the risk of having our digital identity stolen and exploited. Identity theft can happen to anyone!