Facezam - Creepiest App of All Time?
Apart from stealing the name of another app and reworking it with about as much imagination as Michael Bay's pet rock, it operates on a disturbing basis: the idea that people want to Facebook stalk complete strangers. Here's how it works - you take a photo of someone (presumably without them noticing), and then the app matches it up with photos on Facebook until the actual subject is found. If you're feeling the need to find a pillow to scream into now, that's fairly normal.
The founder of the app has claimed that it will end 'anonymous societies', as if anonymity was this awful thing that doesn't help anyone. I don't know about you but I don't mind not knowing who the vast majority of people in the world are, but do you know what I like even more? Not being photographed and having my Facebook profile dredged up by someone I was sitting opposite on the tube.
Any app which pulls user data can't be released without expressed permission from Facebook, and apparently Facezam doesn't have it yet. Given that it's only within a week of launch that this is coming up, something tells me that the Facezam team knew it was going to be a point of contention.
In fact, Facezam are claiming that their app doesn't violate Facebook's policies in any way, and moreover that the app could be useful as a countermeasure against crime. Because obviously if you're developing a crime fighting tool you're going to make it available to everyone and market it as an end to anonymity. Paging Mr. Orwell.
As if it wasn't obvious, the key issue here is that people aren't given the option to exclude themselves from this app. If you're on Facebook, it can probably find you, and you'll have no way of knowing if someone else has used it on you. At least until you get a friend request from someone with a clearly made-up name, a lazy eye, an penchant for trench-coats and an extensive collection of pictures of people's feet.
Comfortingly, other app developers have tried this kind of thing before and almost always failed to make it past the platform providing the actual database. In 2013, Google banned the use of facial recognition for Glass, largely as a response to the failed launch of NameTag, another face-scanning app, also blocked by Facebook. The real question is, how many developers will attempt this before one of them finds some sort of workaround? Put it this way, swapping out all my Facebook photos for pictures of various cacti is suddenly seeming a lot more attractive.
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum
Facezam - Creepiest App of All Time? Reviewed by Callum Davies on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 Rating: