'Facezam' App That Claimed To Identify Strangers Was Just A Hoax

Facezam, as the app is called, apparently works like this: snap a photo and Facezam will recognize the face.

"So that attractive girl you see on the train every day?"

The app called "Facezam", after the social networking site Facebook and the music identifying app Shazam, said it could identify someone by matching a photo taken of them with their Facebook profile. Otherwise, it could be a hoax or worse, a scam app like the rest, which dupes users who are gullible enough to try to use it and provide them personal information, especially their emails. "Take a photo of her, Facezam it, and you can find her in a matter of seconds". That means the app's accuracy would likely drop substantially if it had access to Facebook's full database of billions of profile photos. Now, that massive trove of faces could be used to identify people on the street simply by taking their photo, according to the creators of a creepy new app set to launch later this month. Facebook uses its own facial recognition software when it recommends tags in photos, as does Google, but software like the kind that Facezam was promoting isn't now available to the masses in most of the world.

Of course, that's if it launches. Face-matching also becomes extremely hard if the app is only using one photo per person - in this case, their profile photo - rather than a large corpus of images, says Adam Harvey, a privacy researcher and artist who has designed anti-face recognition technology.

Facebook has confirmed that the Facezam is violating its privacy policy, making the expected March 21 release date uncertain.

Facebook reviews apps that use its data before they go live to check they adhere to its policies. "This activity would violate our terms", Facebook said.

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. Add that to the fact that Kenyon's presence on the internet is virtually nonexistent.

  • Arturo Norris