Facebook’s 1.2 Billion Profile Pictures Displayed on a Single Web Page
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — With 1.2 billion Facebook users across the globe, it’s a good bet you’re one of them.
Regardless of whether you joined the social network when it was still a pet project at Harvard University or joined as recently as Monday, Natalia Rojas, a creative technologist, probably has your picture somewhere on her website, The Faces of Facebook.
Rojas’ website took about a year and a half from start to finish, though she said she worked on it only during her free time. “I accidentally discovered how to access all the profile pictures from everyone on Facebook when I was playing around with their API,” she told ABC News, referring to the application programming interface. “I thought, ‘What do I do with this? Maybe make something beautiful?’”
Beautiful may be an odd choice when visitors first come across the website. While not as offensive on the eyes as the advertisement-laden Million Dollar Homepage, it doesn’t look much different than static on a television.
“At the beginning, I thought to take all the photos and make them really small,” said Rojas. “But I realized that no matter what you do, you’ll get this noisy thing you see.” As a result, she decided to reduce every profile picture into a single-colored pixel, making the website load faster. When the website isn’t overwhelmed with users, you can zoom into those pixels to reveal photos.
She hasn’t done any official data analysis looking at Facebook users, but Rojas does see some trends among Facebook users. “The first user profiles are from Harvard and other universities in the United States,” she said. “But after that, a lot of people registered in South America. Now, many of the latest profile pictures are from India.”
Unlike the giant social networking empire from which Rojas culled all the profile pictures, her website is the creation of just Rojas and a couple of friends. As a result, her website isn’t always able to handle the flood of Web traffic she’s recently seen.
“We had one million users in the first two days,” she said. “I want everyone to access it, but the servers we have don’t have the capability to support everyone.”
Rojas has put a lot of work into creating and maintaining the database of Facebook information, but she’s not opposed to letting other people work with her data.
“It took me a lot of time and money so it’s not something that I want to give away,” she said. “But if someone has an idea for some more amazing and interesting results, why not?”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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