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Why a Brooklyn Artist Is Selling His Facebook Password on eBay

Hint: it's not for the $165.
May 11, 2015, 5:00pm
Image: Shutterstock

For most people, the idea of having your Facebook profile hijacked is fairly anxiety-inducing. But for Nick Schmidt, a 28-year-old Brooklyn-based conceptual artist who is selling his Facebook login and password on eBay, it's exciting—and a bit of a relief.

"I was just trying to figure out a way to delete my Facebook, which is kind of a thing that people of my generation are doing," Schmidt told me over the phone. "This is kind of a way of deleting my Facebook while handing it off to someone, so it's still living but I'm not affiliated with it any more."

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The login information for his profile (which has 819 friends and currently features a photo of Jodie Foster as its profile pic) has attracted 34 bids as of writing this, pushing the price from 99 cents to $165. With three days left in the auction, the price could jump higher still before a final bidder takes home the prize (which will be jotted on a piece of lined paper and snail-mailed to the successful bidder).

But he's not really interested in making money. Aside from being a creative way of disposing of his Facebook account, Schmidt said he's using the auction as a kind of social experiment to see what people do when handed the keys to a total stranger's private world.

"I'm not necessarily worried as much as I am just excited to see what they do with it," Schmidt said. "It will either confirm our belief in the general benevolence of people or confirm everybody's fears of what we think somebody would do with our Facebook."

He said he hopes to stay in touch with the winning bidder to see what happens to the profile, and turn it into an exhibit of some kind.

Technically, he isn't allowed to do this without Facebook's written permission, according to the site's terms of service. Schmidt said he's "looking into" getting Facebook's permission before the transfer.

It's not the first time the artist has relinquished control of his private information in the name of art and experimentation. His ongoing project "Unlock and Explore," puts his personal iPhone on public display in gallery spaces. You can scroll through his messages, call his contacts, creep his photos, all with full permission. Schmidt views it as a commentary on how fragile our private information feels: between hackers and the NSA, it seems like we're always on the verge of having our personal information peeped.

"Everything is practically transparent right now anyway. Everyone is worried about their information," Schmidt said. "I kind of just want to beat everyone to the punch."

Whether sweet or sinister, if you have some plans for what you'd like to do with a stranger's Facebook profile, now's your chance.