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This Photographer Is Using People’s Profile Pictures To Teach Us About Privacy And Social Media

Does blurring out faces do enough to protect privacy?

In an effort to highlight the way people reveal themselves between social networking sites, Belgian artist Dries Depoorter has launched a photography project called “Tinder In.” The series features users’ profile pictures for LinkedIn and Tinder placed side by side, stressing the dichotomy inherent in the career and relationship sites.

All images via Dries Depoorter/TinderIn.

But while that comparison may be the result of his work, he offers a mission statement stating another intention altogether:

“To question and challenge privacy issues, I’ve used examples from my surroundings as well as examples from my personal life (as I do in many of my projects). With this, I do not have the intention to expose any person in particular. My intention is to mock privacy in general. I want to expose what can be exposed so easily without us realizing it. From now on, I will continue this project without anyone being recognisably pictured.”

Depoorter explicitly has set out to mock the notion of privacy for social media users, but he’s mindful of the privacy of his specific, unknowing subjects. From the sound of his conversation with Vice’s The Creator’s Project, he knows that he’s skating a fine line, blurred images or not. He reveals, “I know it’s a bit bad, but I could not resist. I’m getting a bit worried, actually. I’ve published six photos so far, and I’m expecting an email of one of the girls demanding the photos to be taken offline.”

This certainly isn’t Depoorter’s first foray into the intersection of technology and voyeurism. The photographer’s earlier project “Trojan Offices” used public webcams to survey and study random offices displayed publicly via video screens at different art festivals.

Not one to shy away from the scrutiny he casts on others, he made himself the subject of “Here,” offering a public website that let anyone track his whereabouts at any given time using Google Maps.

Going back to the glaring distinctions he sees in people’s public LinkedIn profile photos versus those on Tinder, the artist says, “On LinkedIn, you come across all these neat business shirt photos, often against a white background, typically made in a professional photo shoot done specifically for interviews. On Tinder, you see party pics and holiday photos showing a lot more skin. Women show off their cleavage, men pick photos in which their muscles show.”

It’s not exactly a revelation or even at all surprising that people would treat the two sites in these two different fashions, so it’s equally unsurprising people keep coming back to the privacy issue. Depoorter says he’s been hit with criticisms about his subject selection (the first three were all women) but claims that he just used his own Tinder account to collect them.

To further that point, these are people who are, at least tangentially, “in” his life, and he doesn’t feel that he’s somehow different. It’s a study of himself as well.

He admits, “I’m just as cliché. I am not doing this project because I feel like I'm above these people, on the contrary. That is why I’ve decided to include myself in this series as well because I’m doing the exact same thing.”

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