Social Networking giant Facebook has asked a pair of Italian artists to stop “scraping” profiles from the Facebook website to use on a new mock dating website. Digital artists Alessandro Ludovico and Paolo Cirio told CNN on Friday that Facebook has hit them with a “cease and desist” letter regarding the mock website, called Lovely-Faces.com.
The artists have apparently disabled the website, though they are seeking legal advice on the legality of their conceptual art provocation, which they claim utilizes publicly available information and so therefore is legal.
Scraping is a method of collecting the computer code that makes up the images and words you see on a web page to use on another website. Facebook issued a statement saying:
“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've already been in touch with Lovely-Faces to demand that they delete the data and we will take additional action as necessary.”
This is not the first time that Cirio and Ludovico have gotten into legal battles with huge companies. They have tussled with Amazon and Google in the past on various issues. The duo claim that their work exposes the vulnerability of people's online data and identifies flaws in the internal mechanisms of major internet firms. It also brings into question the ownership of online data, according to insiders.
Critics of the artists' work say they are nothing more than common hackers, but they point out that the information they gather is made available to the public, they do not gain financially from the work, and that they are not out to harm anybody, three key differences between what they do and what traditional hackers do.