The creator of the now wildly popular website Faces of Facebook, Natalia Rojas became an overnight sensation when she decided to turn a fun idea into a personal project. Featuring a colorful, densely packed grid of billions of images, the site uses Facebook’s developer platform to show all users’ profile pictures. Each of these pictures is assigned a number on the website, and If you connect your account to the site, you can find your “Face Number” and, of course, where you are on the grid.
Faces of Facebook is both gratifying and intimidating in effect: while it inspires a sense of global community, it simultaneously is a little frightening — especially when you consider how Ms. Rojas likely doesn’t know the vast majority of the people on the site personally. Because of the potential privacy implications, MyPermissions decided to reach out to Ms. Rojas directly to ask what her thoughts were on her project and its reception.
MP: What your reasoning behind creating the page?
NR: I was playing around with Facebook API and I discovered that there is a way to access everyone’s profile picture with a very simple (but not obvious) algorithm. Then I started to write the code to achieve it.
MP: Did you have any reason to think that it might be a “big deal” kind of project?
NR: I noticed a “WOW” reaction when I first told my colleagues and friends about the idea.
MP: It’s a “Wow” sort of site! Did it strike you as a potentially “controversial” or provocative project when you first started out?
NR: At that time I thought I could do something beautiful or interesting with it, but I never thought it was going to be controversial.
MP: If you had to sum up the feedback you’ve gotten overall, how would you describe it?
NR: I’m really impressed with the amount of visits from people all around the world (like from a small town in Chile to a small town in South Korea), and I’ve been overwhelmed with the press coverage it has had. It’s amazing to see your name within an article written in languages that you don’t understand, like Russian or Arabic.
MP: How many people have connected with their Facebook accounts to find their face “number”?
NR: We’ve had more than 1.5 million out of our visitors connect so far!
MP: Yikes, that’s a lot of visits!
NR: The server’s actually collapsed a few times and the website has sometimes gotten buggy because of it!
MP: Do you have any future plans for Faces of Facebook, or do you think you’ll leave it as-is?
NR: Like in the movies, second parts are never good, right? (Except for Toy Story 2!)