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This Photographer Used An App To Find The Profile Pictures Of People On The Subway

The photography student wanted to show people how easy it is to access their personal lives.

Posted on April 15, 2016, at 10:20 a.m. ET

A Russian photography student has created a project in which he matched strangers sitting across from him on the subway with their social media photos, all without their knowledge.

Egor Tsvetkov

Egor Tsvetkov, a 21-year-old photography student at the Alexander Rodchenko School of Photography in Moscow, got the idea for the project from an app called Find Face.

Egor Tsvetkov

For two months, Tsvetkov photographed people sat opposite him when he rode the Metro. He then used the app to find the person's social media page on VK, a Russian social media site.

Egor Tsvetkov

"I needed to try it and find people, needed to show people how easy it is to find them on social networks and get to know their lives," Tsevtkov told BuzzFeed News.

Egor Tsvetkov

Weirdly, the reaction to the use of the app in Russia have been generally positive, with many pointing out how easy it already is to find peoples’ social profiles. BuzzFeed News asked BuzzFeed Russia's followers on VK for their opinions on the project.

"It finds profiles by Tinder photos. Nice app."
VK

"It finds profiles by Tinder photos. Nice app."

"Google can find identical photos pretty well too."
VK

"Google can find identical photos pretty well too."

"And what does the algorithm do? Just a regular neural network. The difference is that Google trains its network using photos from websites and Find Face is doing it using profile pics."
VK

"And what does the algorithm do? Just a regular neural network. The difference is that Google trains its network using photos from websites and Find Face is doing it using profile pics."

The project, Your Face Is Big Data, was published online and has been picked up by numerous Russian outlets. Tsetkov says he sees the photos not as art, but as a way to communicate a wider issue.

Egor Tsvetkov

"I just used software that was openly available, I didn’t buy any expensive program that is out there or code something myself," he said. "The whole idea is that anyone can do the same thing as I did."

Egor Tsvetkov

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