Email2Face is a little library that lets you search Facebook profile pictures by email
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Email2Face is a simple library for getting the person's face behind an email address. At Lockitron, we wanted faces next to names. It's a lot easier to remember who someone is when you can see their face. But, that's difficult to implement when all you have is an email address and a name.

After thinking about it for a few days, we came up with a good solution. Facebook has lots of faces, so why not use that? But, Facebook does not have an API for searching for profile pictures by email. So, we made one.


It needs a Facebook account to work. I do not recommend using your own Facebook because I'm not sure if this plays well with Facebook's TOS. So, make a fake Facebook for it. I've included a default one, but it'll probably be banned by the time you get to it.

Before jumping in

You need to have Xvfb and QTWebkit installed in order to use this.

Install it on Mac OS X:

$ brew install qt

Then, download and install XQuartz.

Install it on Arch Linux:

$ sudo pacman -S xorg-server-xvfb qtwebkit

Install it on Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install xvfb libqtwebkit4 libqtwebkit4-dev

Using it

Start off by installing the gem:

gem install 'email2face'

Then, we just give Email2Face the email we want a face for:

require 'email2face'

It should return something like:

However, if you get something like this:

"I couldn't find a face for that email :(. It's also possible that Facebook has asked for a security check on that account, which means that you should sign in and perform the security check."

That might mean that Facebook is redirecting all requests to their checkpoint. If it's an account you made, sign in and perform the security check. Otherwise, change it to an account that you know works.

Changing the Facebook Account

It's unlikely the included Facebook account will work for long. So, you may need to make a fake Facebook for it. Do not use your own because it's possible that Facebook may ban it.

With Ruby on Rails:

1.Create a new file in config/initializers called facebook.rb

2.Open that file in a text editor, and drop in the following:

Email2Face.username = "MY_FAKE_FACEBOOK_USERNAME"
Email2Face.password = "MY_FAKE_FACEBOOK_PASSWORD"

You'll need to restart your application server for it to have any affect.

Without Ruby on Rails:

The code above wasn't specific to Ruby on Rails. Just set Email2Face.username and Email2Face.password to what you want.