Website maps 1.2 billion Facebook faces
(CNN) — Facebook has so many users — more than a billion, or roughly the population of India — that squeezing them all into one Web page seems almost impossible.
And yet someone has done just that.
A new project, “The Faces of Facebook,” collects more than 1.27 billion Facebook profile photos on one site, arranged in chronological order according to when the person joined the social network. Users can sign in via Facebook to pinpoint their photo on the page and see where they show up in relation to their friends.
At first glance, the site looks like colorful, pixelated white noise. But users can zoom in to see individual photos and then scroll around or click on a photo to visit that person’s Facebook page. (Be warned, however: the page is experiencing heavy traffic and can be slow and buggy.)
The site launched last week and was built by Natalia Rojas, a self-described “creative technologist” in Barcelona, Spain.
“I was playing around with Facebook API, and I discovered that there is a way to access everyone’s public information with a very simple (but not obvious) algorithm,” she said in an e-mail to CNN. “At that time, I thought I could do something beautiful/interesting with that, like showing them all together. Then I started to write the code to achieve it.”
Rojas said she is not breaking Facebook privacy rules because she is not storing anyone’s name, photo or private information — just linking out to public Facebook profiles. She also said she hasn’t heard from the social network, which she thinks is good news because “I was a bit worried about things like using their name in the URL.”
Facebook did not repond to CNN’s request for comment.
Rojas said it took her a year and a half to code the site. The hardest part, she said, was stripping out the default silhouette images that appear on some inactive Facebook profiles.
Asked about her hopes for the project, Rojas said she was inspired by the idea that each Facebook profile photo is an example of that person’s best self, and that millions of those images together combine to present a positive, universal message.
“There is a mix of people from all over the world. And somehow we are all telling our friends: ‘Look, this is me, when I like myself.’ Feeling happy, being creative, looking good, being passionate about something, proud of something, enjoying the life,” she said.
“So I think, why don’t we try to BE our Facebook profile picture? Even if life is difficult some times, there is always a way for us to be what we want to be: happy.”