Adoptly, the “Tinder for adoption” app that was suspended from Kickstarter earlier this month, wasn’t a real service after all.
In an email sent to reporters this afternoon, Adoptly’s creators said it was in fact part of “an ongoing art project” by directors Ben Becker and Elliot Glass. The duo were also behind the fake app Pooper, which fooled a number of news sites into writing about a supposed “Uber for dog poop” last July.
The project, Becker and Glass write, is meant to satirize “our tech obsessed world and our cultural desire to make everything faster, easier, more convenient, and instantly gratifying, and raise questions about where we draw the line, or whether we do at all.” The goal was not to “guide the conversation,” but to “see where it went naturally through traditional media, social media, and comment boards.”
Unlike with Pooper, people caught on pretty quickly to the fact that Adoptly appeared to be fake — we said as much when writing about it and really only found evidence that it was meant to be parody. “Initial reception from the media was decidedly more skeptical than with Pooper,” the duo write. “This was likely a reaction not only to the concept of Adoptly, but also from the recent prominence and backlash toward fake news, and perhaps even the success of Pooper itself.”
But Becker and Glass still find it interesting that Adoptly “couldn’t be entirely dismissed outright" as satire. They also note a number of interesting side effects of the parody. Those include earnest supporters encouraging the duo to continue pushing to modernize the legal process around adoption and a renewed debate around the ethical practice of swiping on romantic partners based on looks, age, ethnicity, and other factors.
If anything, Adoptly did succeed in saying something about the grandiose claims companies often make about the potential for change coming from Silicon Valley.