Yesterday, an unusual app started making news. Called Facezam, the app promised to instantly identify anyone in front of your phone’s camera, using facial recognition to match them against Facebook profile pictures. It was a terrifying promise: anyone walking down the street could be identified with just a wave of your phone.
It was all fake, as it turned out. The app was built by a viral marketing agency called Zacozo, who mocked up visuals for the app, lied about the broader outlines of the project, and generated a wave of alarmed coverage in the process. The outlets who ran with the report have already drawn fire on Twitter, but so far Zacozo seems unconcerned.
Reached by The Verge, the firm said they thought a facial recognition app would be instantly controversial. “Similar invasive apps are a popular topic in the media,” a spokesperson said, “so we thought this would be picked up quickly.”