Facezam: The Latest in a Line of Social Media Hoaxes

Fooled, pranked, hornswoggled – these are just a few terms to describe how many Facebook users felt when they learned about Facezam.
“Once it’s on the Internet, it’s there forever.” Chances are, you’ve been told some variation of this statement a few times before. The Internet is vast and it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to scrub every last trace of information related to you from it. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t entitled to privacy. Enter Facezam.com, which not only grabbed the attention of Facebook users but bamboozled them in the process.
For those that don’t know, Facezam was said to be an upcoming mobile app to help people identify anonymous users on Facebook. With strong accuracy, Facezam could identify faces in a matter of seconds. In other words, if someone has pictures of him or herself on Facebook, it’s safe to assume that this app could have determined who they were. For those still worried about the impending release of Facezam, you can lay your concerns to rest – it was only a publicity stunt by viral marketing agency Zacozo Creative.
According to the official Facezam website, “the app never existed and is never going to launch.” It went on to say, “face matching apps don’t currently exist in the West. We hope it stays that way.” While the reveal of this hoax came as a surprise, there were those that were able to see through the façade. Such technology is in violation of Facebook’s guidelines, which are designed to protect its users. Nonetheless, it speaks volumes about the power that social media hoaxes have.
Prior to the reveal, a number of publications reported on the Facezam story as fact. The Independent, Fortune and The Boston Globe were just a few, though many others released articles once the truth was out. I can’t say that I wasn’t fooled, either. Seeing as how many people are concerned about the idea of being spied on through our computers, it would make sense for us to jump to conclusions without knowing all of the facts. Privacy is of the utmost importance to us.
Social media hoaxes are nothing new, as they’ve been around practically since the beginning of social media itself. Back in 2009, a rumor circulated that Facebook would be charging a monthly fee for its users, meaning that the budding networking platform would no longer be free to use. Even though the story was hard to believe, especially in hindsight, I saw many of my Facebook friends share the same message. This is just one example, but it lends credence to the idea that social media hoaxes spread fast.
No matter how many stories related to Facebook monthly rates, fake celebrity deaths, and the like we’re exposed to, social media hoaxes make their rounds without fail. Perhaps the best way to avoid falling for the joke is to do the legwork and research the matter on your own. With publications like the ones mentioned earlier reporting without knowing all of the details, the research in question might be more extensive than previously anticipated.
What is your take on the Facezam hoax? Did you initially believe it to be true? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

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