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Facebook is quietly making incredible computer art with your photos

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Instagram's doing it also

Here's something awesome for your Friday. It's been discovered that for every photo you upload to Facebook or Instagram, the company quietly makes an html page that replicates that photo using ASCII — text characters, put more simply. It's a really neat effect, and lets you blow up your images to massive scale. Mathias Bynens noticed the trick and tweeted about it yesterday.

So what does it look like, then? Let's demonstrate using one of Mark Zuckerberg's own profile photos. Here's the original image, and by adding .html to the end of that URL, you'll get the colored ASCII version. As Bynens notes, appending .txt instead will get you a black-and-white version.

As another example, up above is a recent Instagram shot of mine (yes, that's a thirsty attempt at more followers) taken during last week's blizzard. And here's the large HTML version. It can be trickier to find URLs for Instagram photos since you can't just right-click in most browsers; it requires opening up the page's source code and searching for the JPG extension. Same goes for Facebook; if a picture URL ends with a bunch of added junk instead of .jpg, the process is a bit less straightforward. We've reached out to the company for the reasoning behind this hidden-but-cool "feature" — there's probably some boring backend / CDN explanation. But it's still a neat trick.