CC Lab Final | Stealfie


I started this project because I’M ANGRY. I feel betrayed by the internet and technology. I feel like we are being manipulated, our experiences shaped by the screens that have come to define much of our existence, our identity. I’m especially worried about virtual identities, and our lack of precedents and understanding about the tradeoffs we make to live in a convenient, connected world.

Data is the oil of the 21st century. Did you know that right now, 4 out of 10 apps on your phone probably have your location b/c you enabled it to always? Ask yourself, how many companies know where you are right now. And what about photos & selfies themselves? Facebook bought Instagram when they were 2 years old, making no money, for $1 Billion! Why? Because they knew there is so much data behind every picture. Lo and behold, The Terms and Conditions changed that day saying they own your data.

“In the US, there is no single, comprehensive federal (national) law regulating the collection and use of personal data. Instead, the US has a patchwork system of federal and state laws, and regulations that can sometimes overlap, dovetail and contradict one another.”

The norm is self-regulation, we require users to opt-out. But as we all know, the default is very important. Terms and Conditions are implicit in many apps, just by downloading/using them we must accept.  opting out.

But what does this matter? If we aren’t doing anything wrong on the internet. Big data will be able to predict things we can’t even imagine in future. Already there have been accusations of price fixing using cookies for flights on travel sites. What will they price fix in the future? Will price fluctuations be based on our mood, our health, our DNA? What about insurance premiums? Will our health insurance go up because of risky photos/videos? Just think… Facebook now has facial recognition.



Dataveillance is just as important as surveillance. – collection and processing of data rather than images. Stanza extrapolates on an existing tech – making predictions about the future capabilities of connected systems and surveillance.

“The viewer is forced to make an assessment about the extent to which such extrapolations are possible from the data that might be gathered in such a system.”

“Such an extrapolation is probably not possible now, but might it be in the future? Would we want it to be?”


Justin Crowe & Aric Snee – The Stealfie Arm

Our digital identities are fundamentally shaped by the profiles we generate. The things we share online. Selfies are unique because they collapse our real/virtual worlds. The Selfie Arm – Justin Crowe and Aric Snee – “sarcastic solution” – no one wants to be alone, yet constantly wants to engage on Facebook and Instagram with people who aren’t actually there.

International Journal of Communication, “The Selfie Assemblage”

“Selfies exist in a unique moment in human technological history, one that invites consideration of the multiple worlds that individuals inhabit…

…the nexus of the intimate self, public spaces, locative technology, and digital social networks.”

Context/Target Audience

The target audience for Stealfie is young adult/teen and adult users who frequently use online and mobile technology. I see this in a gallery setting. The first exhibit, users would play with Stealfie. They would walk away, forget about it, like we do after we play with our phones… But after the last exhibit, they would be presented with the information on a huge wall for all to see.


Stealfie is critical design app that explores how we define & share our virtual sense of self in a connected world that records every click, share, tweet, and text we send. Through Stealfie I’m seeking to gain a better understanding of our increasingly hybrid real/virtual identities in a world where every click, like, selfie, and share is recorded, aggregated, and sold to the highest bidder.

I want to criticize this interaction and make users question what they share, what it says about them, and how outside parties can use and make assumptions based on this information that could lead to potentially negative, costly, and embarrassing consequences. To do this, Stealfie seeks to critically uncover the connections between the information we provide and the digital profile it builds of us. Both questions and in-app choices collect information and share it quite visibly, without the users explicit consent.

Every day we are driven by our desire for a quick, convenient and seamlessly connected digital experience, I want users to realize there is a tradeoff for this convenience.


Ever since the start of my research, I was very interested in the concept of mirrors and how we see ourselves reflected in digital screens. Some of this fascination comes from the idea of the “uncanny” throughout several mirror tropes in literature starting in the bible, reviving in gothic fiction through Sheridan LeFanu’s “In a Glass Darkly”, and in 20th century Science Fiction  with Philip K. Dicks “In a Scanner Darkly”. Throughout my process, my interest in the mirror metaphor started off with me wanting to build a mirror app that wouldn’t work unless you paid it with information. Later this evolved with research into thinking of reflections as selfies of ourselves. There is a psychological concept called the “looking glass self” that states we project what we want people to see about us. Our digital identities are fundamentally shaped by the profiles we generate. The things we share online. This very much connected with that representation of a mirror for me.

I chose Twitter as the first platform to demo this idea with. There is a history of shaming and mishaps on Twitter. Especially those that are personal/professional. It is a open network, anyone can see it. Through user testing, I was able to refine the Steaflie process with better questions, filter names, and the final reveal. I was able to actually take information and post without consent (hitting cancel on tweet post box actually still posts the information tweet. As soon as you hit the share button, the info is out of your control.

Design Methodology

When designing selfie I tried to consider several different areas of design during its research and builds. I tried to incorporate Selfie & Mobile App tropes. I want the user to feel like this is a normal selfie app. Simply take a selfie, choose a cool filter, share. In order to achieve this I chose to incorporate several U/X and U/I elements standard in selfie apps: pop-ups and alerts, terms of service etc. The questions start very standard, then get a little weird. We are used to just clicking through things without thinking and I wanted to play on that.

Final Product

Final Project Code

Here is my final code on my GitHub.

Final Demo Video

Final Presentation Video


More Information


You can also check out Stealfie on Twitter.

Please also see my separate post that details my research and precedent works cited throughout the process and follow-up feedback from my critiques/final reflections.


It has been a great semester. I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible and had so much fun. Now it is time for a whole lot of the below.





Dana out.

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