Should Artists Be Able to Sell Their Facebook Passwords on eBay?
eBay may have taken down the auction for his Facebook password, but Nick Hugh Schmidt is keeping his dream alive.
The Facebook profile for sale, currently decked out in Jodie Foster pictures. Images courtesy the artist
Last week, eBay officially removed the auction listing posted by Brooklyn artist Nick Hugh Schmidt—his Facebook username and password, for sale to the highest bidder.
Initially conceived as a creative way to get himself to quit Facebook, it quickly became something of a social experiment in the vein of previous project, Unlock and Explore, for which the artist left his phone unlocked and unguarded in an gallery, allowing visitors access to his photos, camera, and social media presence. "I'm not necessarily worried as much as I am just excited to see what they do with it," Schmidt told Motherboard earlier this week. "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." Bidding started at $0.99, and by yesterday, had grown to $165.
His project, however, was foiled by a stringent eBay policy designed to keep artificial page likes from being bought and sold on their marketplace. Schmidt immediately made efforts to resume his auction ("I'm sort of pissed to be honest," he tells The Creators Project, "I tried calling eBay and they won't budge"). He also attempted to contact Facebook for permission to sell his username and password in the name of art, but to no avail. "I get the whole spam issue they're trying to avoid, but I think it makes me ask, if Facebook and other sites can sell my personal information, why can't I?"
Of course, Schmidt isn't the first person to sell his brand identity on the open market. People have taken up the less art-minded practice of auctioning space on their bodies to advertisers for years. Vice recently published a feature on William Gibby, a.k.a. Hostgator M. Dotcom, one of the most extreme practitioners of "skinvertising," which is definitely worth a read.
As opposed to Dotcom, who is in the process of removing his tattoos, however, Schmidt remains dedicated to his project. In lieu of an online auction, he was able to arrange a last-minute event at Shwick in Brooklyn on Friday, May 15, from 6 to 10 PM, where he'll reset the auction price back to $0.99.
If he makes enough money, he already has a few ideas on how he'll spend it: "How funny would it be if I used it for a start up that vowed to be 'the next Facebook?'"
See more of Nick Hugh Schmidt's art on his website. For more strange things people have tried to sell on eBay, check out the links below.