Skip to main content

Artist creates thousands of fake Facebook profiles to fight ‘user commodification’

dullaart dead soldier facebook profiles hessian soldiers
Conrad Gessner/Wikimedia Commons
Hard on the heels of Facebook’s seemingly successful third quarter report and numerous announcements of updates intended to keep its nearly 2 billion users reliant on the platform for information, emerges a small group of people focusing on the social network’s  “commodification” of users.

Part of this group is an artist, Constant Dullaart, who recently told Vice’s Motherboard, “We’re now in this social media revolution, which is run by these American corporations.” In response, Dullaart created of thousands of fake Facebook profiles carrying the names of 18th-century dead Hessian soldiers. Dullaart’s project is designed not just to challenge Facebook’s perceived treatment of user identities as commodities, but also to protest its controversial real-name policy.

Activists have protested Facebook’s real-name policy since its implementation. The policy requires users to create real profiles in order to “help keep our community safe,” but according to the Washington Times, this policy has also made the community unsafe for some users, creating hardship for the trans community, drag performers, and Native Americans, among others. As a result, Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice president of growth, issued an open letter explaining the site’s intent to implement changes and address concerns.

Dullaart has created about 1,000 of his dead soldier profiles and plans to create as many as 20,000 through the use of phone numbers and bulk Internet proxies. While pointing out the practice of hiring low-wage laborers to create fake profiles for wealthier countries to use for marketing purposes, he tells Vice, “I’m trying to highlight that there is an enormous industry out there that thrives on circumventing these rules.”

Dullaart has also gone after other platforms. In an effort to show how easily you can manipulate a brand’s image, he bought 2.5 million fake Instagram followers and then dumped them onto the accounts of 30 leading figures in the art world. “It’s quite easy to manipulate these figures,” he says, “But there are still an enormous amount of people who believe that these numbers are real.” This belief is one that Dullaart says supports and rewards “a false economy of social media.”

Christina Majaski
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Christina has written for print and online publications since 2003. In her spare time, she wastes an exorbitant amount of…
Facebook will now let users turn off political ads
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his social media company is gearing up for the 2020 election by rolling out an option for users to turn off political ads and launching an initiative to increase voter turnout.

In an op-ed for USA Today, Zuckerberg said users will be able to switch off political ads, a tool it first introduced earlier this year in January.

Read more
Facebook will pay users $5 for their voice memo to improve speech detection
is facebook working on a messenger assistant powered by real people

Nearly six months after Facebook admitted to listening in on its users’ audio messenger chats, the company is now offering to pay for them. 

Facebook announced Thursday it plans to pay some users up to $5 for voice memos in an effort to better develop its speech recognition technology. 

Read more
Facebook removes some Russian, Iranian accounts for spreading fake memes
Facebook Russia

Facebook has removed fake accounts originating from Russia, Iran, Vietnam, and Myanmar because of “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” 

The social network announced in a Wednesday blog post from Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, the removal of pages, groups, and accounts from both Facebook and Instagram that originated in these countries. The behavior was reportedly on behalf of a government or foreign actor. 

Read more