The Media Was Fooled By This Fake Dog Poop App
Not gonna lie—we wish it were real!
“There’s an app for that.” You’ve heard the phrase a million times before—and it’s starting to seem like there really is an app for everything. It’s gotten to the point where some of them are downright absurd.
Take the Tooth Fairy Calculator app, which tells (apparently clueless) parents the going rate for a tooth based on their state, marital status, family size and household income. Really? Then there’s an app called simply Yo that the laziest people on the planet can use to message the word “yo” back and forth to each other. You can’t send any other text with this app—but yet its developers secured $1 million in funding back in 2014.
So, when news outlets started getting press releases about a new app called Pooper that would allegedly connect dog owners with “scoopers” to pick up their pups’ poop (like Uber for dog poop)—it didn’t seem all that far-fetched.
Practical jokesters Ben Becker, an ad agency creative director, and Elliot Glass, a designer and web developer, went so far as to create a pretty believable website, complete with photos, videos, detailed explanations of how the app works and a media resources page.
“We wanted to begin a project that reflected the state of technology—specifically apps,” Becker told Newsweek. “Taking the visual signifiers and language and the entire world and inhabiting it, inserting an absurd purpose for it. In this case, that would be dog poop.”
Their hoax worked. Several publications ran stories about the fake app. Newsday published a story entitled “Sick of picking up your dog’s poop? There’s an app for that. Meanwhile, The Daily Dot declared Pooper “an app for the laziest dog owners on earth.”
Dog owners and people who are apparently very hard up for work followed suit and clicked through to the site.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of sign-ups,” Becker said to Newsweek. “People have been signing up to be both poopers and scoopers.”
Becker and Glass were extremely committed to promoting their satirical app. They even went as far as doing interviews with reporters. And as it does in our digital world, the (fake, in this case) news spread fast: Publications in Japan and Germany even picked up the story.
“A lot of the coverage came from folks that we didn’t even reach out to initially,” Glass told Newsweek.
In our fast-paced world, where we consume news at lightning speed on our smartphones, it’s gotten harder to tell what’s real and what is not. And the fake Pooper app is yet another reminder for all of us—readers and members of the media alike—not to believe everything we read.