The Adoptly app to ‘swipe right’ on a baby adoption was all a fake

Did the media fall for this art project? Or did society emerge unscathed?

funded with kickstarter

An art project for a new adoption app tried to trick the media, and to say it was a raging success in showing what’s wrong with society might be a vast overstatement.

This month, a Kickstarter campaign popped up for an app that borrows from the Tinder model of swiping left or right. I wrote about the app myself, and so did many other outlets, but it was all with a heavy dose of skepticism. In my article, I spoke with several experts who said the app was ridiculous. And, others said it could help raise awareness.

Of course, I went into the story wondering if it was an art project and chose to believe it was possibly true but misguided. When I asked the people behind the app if they were doing an art project, they told me it was legit. That’s all part of the plot I’m sure.

In the end, what really happened? I’d say it's a win for society. Whether you are outraged at a fake app or a real one, you're still outraged.

Most of us spotted what seemed like an SNL parody ad right away. As someone who has considered adoption many times, it seemed like something that was intended to either raise awareness or could have been created by people who had no idea what they were doing. One of the experts told me no one would include babies in an app like that.

I’m pretty sure the people behind the art project were snickering most of the time. They said they were surprised when people took it seriously, but that’s roughly the same as thinking the idea was created by people who are not serious. What would be worse? Thinking the idea of swiping on a baby picture over and over again is a good idea. So the creators of the app and the reporters who questioned the logic of that user interface mechanic are both right. It is pretty dumb.

What can we learn? Here’s one lesson. As a society, we do have to decide what are the limitations of technology. One expert told me several times that a real adoption should include meeting with a real counselor to discuss how the process works. Technology is not the perfect answer to every question, and that seems to be the point of the project.

At the same time, Adoptly might have raised awareness for adoption, and that’s probably another goal the creators had in mind. One father of three adopted kids told me he thinks it is all a joke or misguided but in the end it doesn’t matter -- if it helps people think about the topic, that’s a good thing.

We’re living in an age of fake news. Some of the stories I read did question the app, but obviously never spoke directly to the creators and never tried to find real adoption experts. In some ways, Adoptly is a fake fake news story, which is a double negative -- it could become real.

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