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'Take this lollipop' and your personal stalker awaits

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'Take this lollipop' and your personal stalker awaits
'Take this lollipop' and your personal stalker awaits

When you were a kid, your parents probably told you not to take candy from strangers, but that's exactly what you're doing when you give the "Take this Lollipop" app permission to access your Facebook profile.

By allowing you to be the star of your own personal horror movie, this stalker-themed campaign, launched Oct. 17, is a PSA with teeth, demonstrating creepily that a working understanding of your Facebook privacy settings is definitely in your best interest. That is, if you don't want Bill Oberst Jr., the sinister, sweaty-faced actor who plays your would-be killer in the app, to cyber-stalk you and your friends from a dark basement.

After you give the app Facebook access – including all shared photos and videos and your friends' locations, as well as other basic profile information such as your birthday, location and relationship status – the interactive fun begins. It kicks off with a video of a grubby, twitchy man in a dirty, once-white tank top navigating to Facebook on his clunky desktop computer.

He enters the site and then he … clicks on your profile. Drawing data from your page, your personal photos are woven right into the video. Wait, there's dad! There's me! There's cousin Jimmy! The stalker runs a grimy finger down the screen, then accesses Google Maps, pinpoints your location, and jumps into an old jalopy, ostensibly to introduce you to an unpleasant end.

The trailer will give you a taste:

The video closes with a lollipop taped to the screen above a countdown clock and one of your friends' names below it, along with the promise that he or she “is next.” (When the hour on the clock runs out, however, apparently nothing happens.)

As ominous as he is on screen, Oberst seems like a pretty cool guy with a sense of humor. The star of such films as Nude Nuns with Big Guns and Grilling Bobby Hicks told brandchannel: “The video is going viral and having my name associated with it is a pleasure. It is so clever that it actually creeped me out a bit when I let ‘the creepy guy' peruse my own Facebook profile!”

The man behind the app is digital marketer Jason Zada, a California-based TV and music director who, according to The New York Times, tweeted to his almost 3,000 followers on Monday “Wanna see something scary? My new Facebook Connect Experience,” as well as a link to the site. Tool of North America is responsible for the photography.

Though it might come off as a little over the top, the message of "Take this Lollipop" is clear: The private information we blithely put out on social sites like Facebook may not be as private as we think. In an interview with the Times yesterday, Zada said he was looking to create a “strong emotional response … tied into the fears about privacy and personal info that we have now that we live online.” It's clear he did just that, judging from the amount of media coverage the campaign received.

Guarding your personal information is important. That seems obvious. However, in the digital age, maybe it's necessary to market our own safety to us?

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