Visualising all of Facebook’s billion plus users is no easy task. Mark Zuckerberg has previously attempted it by mapping each individual friendship, resulting in a thick web of neon-blue tracers that drape across continents. ‘Creative technologist’ Natalia Rojas has taken a different and more direct approach: cramming every single profile picture into a single webpage, in chronological order.
The resulting image is the pixel equivalent of white noise – an undifferentiated digital blur of humanity across the globe. Naming it ‘The Faces of Facebook’, Rojas has described the project as a testament to the exhaustive and exhausting scope of the online world:
“Because there we are, all mixed up: large families, women wearing burkas, many Leo Messis, people supporting same-sex marriage or r4bia, Chihuahuas, Indian Gods, tourists pushing the leaning Tower of Pisa, Selfies, newborns, Ferraris, studio black and white portraits, a lot of weddings but zero divorces”.
The image itself might be a bit of an estimate (each pixel on the page is not necessarily an average of the colours from different profile pictures; it just seems to just be randomly generated) but the confusing density of people is certainly honest enough.
Rojas claims that the project is not breaking any Facebook privacy rules “because we don’t store anyone’s private information, pictures or names.” She notes that “we’ve just found a harmless way to show 1,269,543,160 Facebook profile pictures and organize them in chronologic order.”
Users can even find themselves and their friends in the pixel-blizzard. Clicking the geo-tag icon in the top left corner connects the app to your Facebook profile, revealing your profile picture (and those of your friends) as well as an approximation of how quick you were to sign up to the social network.
Of course, no matter how much of a quick adopter you think you are, if you scroll to the top left corner of the webpage there’s only one person that could be the first member: Zuckerberg himself, marked Face #1.