I became forever terrified upon discovering “Take This Lollipop,” an interactive video that launched two weeks before Halloween, yet still continues to haunt millions on the Internet. After giving the application permission to access my information (something my generation often doesn’t think twice about), a blue lollipop appears on the screen with a razor in the middle. Slightly concerned, but mostly intrigued, I click the piece of candy.
Let’s take a tour of the video.
A Walkthrough of "Take This Lollipop"
“I’ve never seen anything grow this fast that isn’t hugely supported by something,” says Zada, who hoped around 100,000 people would enjoy his side project. He threw the script together in about 30 minutes, and with the collaborative efforts of his production company, Tool of North America, and developer Jason Nickel, completed the interactive video in four weeks. It was simply a side project for Halloween.
“I just wanted to scare people. It’s kind of a horror movie that has no blood, no guts, but there’s this person that you don’t want looking at your information,” says Zada. “And that to me was the scariest of all.”
Scary indeed. Ironically, you cannot share your experience with the video on Facebook, the most powerful sharing network in the world. People can only see their own information and photos in the video. However, some have uploaded their own reactions to the video on YouTube. Those top four videos have each outdone Zada’s original 100,000-view goal, creating an additional viral layer. Zada unintentionally created a snowballing viral sensation.
“It really started as a social experiment — the old adage ‘don’t take candy from strangers,’” explains Zada. “People did the hard part for me — they convinced each other to try it. You have this lollipop that you know you shouldn’t take, but if your friends tell you to try something that’s potentially really scary, would you do it?”
Although much of the video’s press coverage has addressed the issue of invading privacy online, Zada feels otherwise.
“There are a lot of headlines that it’s scary, how social media is a scary place. On one hand I guess so, but Facebook is very secure — it’s not like your information is being put out there against your will. You have to create your profile. You’re in control of the information you put out there.”
Facebook privacy is not a new concern. But the fact that more than 9.5 million people choose to take that stranger’s candy is something to think about. Is our generation reckless with that choice, or are we just more trusting?