There is a mysterious new Web site called Take This Lollipop that's out just in time for Halloween. It actually mines through your Facebook account and inserts your photos and other information into a spooky video. It's a site that plays into our biggest fears about online privacy and its possible misuse.
When you open up the site, you first have to click on the image of a blue lollipop, taunting you not to take candy from a stranger. When you do decide to take the candy, the creepiness ensues.
Take This Lollipop asks for access to your Facebook account in order to give you a customized two-minute video featuring a crazed, dirty-fingered man going through your Facebook profile, photos, and location information in order to hunt you down. The twitchy man in a darkened room gets increasingly agitated as he scrolls through your information.
Then, he pulls up Google Maps and finds directions to your home from geographic data contained in your profile. He hops into a car with your profile picture taped to the dashboard, and the video ends with him getting out of his car, presumably tracking down his target - you!
It's a pretty thin plot, but it does make for a bit of a scare when you see yourself cast as the victim.
The Web site has gone viral and appears to be getting massive traffic. It had nearly 30,000 likes on Facebook in the first 24 hours. It's unclear whether the site is a part of a hidden advertising campaign or just a big Halloween spook. Jason Zada, a television and music director who works in Los Angeles and San Francisco, took credit for the video via a tweet.
Zelda insists that the site is not part of an advertising campaign, but rather a fun side project for him.
People keep asking me what sinister plan we're working on behind it, he told The New York Times. I just love Halloween, and got the idea about a month ago and decided to shoot it.
Mr. Zada's resume includes interactive campaigns like the popular holiday Elf Yourself videos for Office Max and commercials for Coupons.com and Ray-ban.
Zada thinks the site is generating so much traffic because it plays on people's insecurities and how personal information could be misused.
When you see your personal information in an environment where you normally wouldn't, it creates a strong emotional response, he said. It's tied into the fears about privacy and personal info that we have now that we live online.
The idea of Take This Lollipop is not totally novel. A few months back, Intel introduced the Museum of Me, which also mined through your Facebook account to create your own personal museum. Similarly, a German site puts you into a video with an eerie end.
However, Take This Lollipop is nonetheless an interesting concept. Fast Company's Joe Berkowitz makes an interesting point:
The format itself is a great showcase for the potential of socially-enabled, seamlessly interactive video as genre entertainment. Here it's horror, but the device would work in another context and genre. Of course if this is meant to be a public service message about privacy, it may be a little counterproductive--the video does nothing so much as demonstrate the entertaining upside of making your life an open book.
The technology is not perfect. Several users have commented that the mysterious man used strange pictures and bizarre locations to track them down. However, most have had a seamless experience.
***Presumably due to high volume, the site experienced some outages on Tuesday.
If you want to see the video without having to log into your Facebook account, you're in luck. Facebook user Snow Ball posted his personal horror movie on YouTube for all to enjoy:
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...