A new and creepy app claims that it can find a person’s social media profile simply by taking a picture of them.
Facezam, as the app is called, apparently works like this: snap a photo and Facezam will recognize the face. From here, the app will search through millions of Facebook profiles and pictures until it finds a match. The rest, the app claims, is “up to you.” If the app’s intentions weren’t already clear enough, its creators spelled its purpose out even further: “That beautiful girl you see on the train every day? Take a photo of her, Facezam it, and you can find her in a matter of seconds.”
The app, Facezam, was created by a British entrepreneur by the name of Jack Kenyon, who said that the app’s ability to identify anyone within a matter of seconds could be “the end” of anonymity. According to Kenyon, “privacy will no longer exist in public society.” If the app does work as promised when it launches, it does raise some troubling privacy and security concerns. Among them is the fact that privacy-minded individuals would not be able to remove themselves from the app’s database — and its recognition system can be used on anyone who has a Facebook profile.
Of course, that’s if it launches. Facebook and Instagram just recently updated its platform policies to explicitly forbid developers from this type of usage. And Facebook has already said that the app violates its privacy policies, adding that they’ve reached out to Kenyon and told him to bring the app into compliance. Facebook checks every app that uses its data, and bars apps from launching without permission.
Kenyon disagrees that Facezam violates any policies, however. “We’ve looked into this, and are confident the app won’t be violating Facebook’s terms,” he told the Telegraph. Even so, he admits that the implications of the app could be a “mix of positives and negatives.”
If it all sounds a bit fishy — and if Kenyon’s comments about the end of privacy seem awfully happy — it could be because it’s a hoax, as Fortune points out. Even the app’s name — a mixture of Facebook and Shaman — is a bit suspicious. Add that to the fact that Kenyon’s presence on the internet is virtually nonexistent. One theory is that it could be a scam to collect the emails and user information of early signees.
The app is slated to go live in the App Store on March 21 — but as stated above, it’s unlikely that Facebook will approve the app, at least in its current form.