Pooper, that new app that promised to send a human to scoop up your dog’s poop on demand — Uber-style — was, as we suspected, a bunch of crap.
Its originators have now confessed — to Newsweek and others — that it was a hoax, or, to put it nicely, “an art project that satirizes our app-obsessed world.”
While a good many media outlets presented the story with at least a little skepticism — skepticism being easier than getting to the bottom of the story — more than a few fell for it hook, line and sinker.
After its initial announcement, Pooper garnered media attention from around the world.
Even the Washington Post treated it as (mostly) legit.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of sign-ups,” Ben Becker told Newseek. Becker came up with a hoax with a friend, Elliot Glass. “People have been signing up to be both poopers and scoopers.”
Becker, a creative director in the advertising world, and Glass, a designer and web developer in Los Angeles, hatched the idea this past winter during a discussion about navel-gazing startup culture.
“We wanted to begin a project that reflected the state of technology—specifically apps,” says Becker in a phone interview. “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.”
Throughout the spring, Becker and Glass spent weekends and late nights plotting “Pooper,” an inane but otherwise believable app that parodies Silicon Valley’s brand of innovation: It purports to solve a problem that doesn’t exist unless you are very rich and lazy.
Whether you see it as a satirical art project, social experiment, or scam, the whole thing did show how gullible we, as a species, are; how increasingly gullible (and lazy) much of the news media has become; and how all is not peachy with our economy.
It’s not like 99 percent of us signed up to clean up after the one percent’s dogs, but a lot more signed up to be scoopers than did those thinking they might want to use the service.
Becker and Glass used Uber as a model for the app and website, issued a press release and put together a demo video. They claimed the project was in the beta testing phase in a few major cities.
News organizations couldn’t resist the story.
As Newsweek reported, some publications “wrote about Pooper in a skeptical, this-is-maybe-fake-but-we’re-going-to-write-about-it-anyway voice, which is increasingly how bloggers write up hoaxy stories as a way of scooping up traffic without touching shit.”
(We’d agree, and that’s what we did. Then again, there’s not too many dog poop stories we ignore, and it was one of my websites that, tongue in cheek, promoted the idea of dog poop valets years ago.)
Ludicrous as it may sound, it, and the phony Pooper app, are not entirely outlandish ideas. There are some aging and afflicted folks who might need help with the task. And — apologies to all my very close professional dog walker friends — but is having one walk and clean up after one’s dog really that different?
Becker and Glass told Newsweek they are at work on other undisclosed schemes — even though they’ve already proven that their high tech hijinks are not to be trusted.
That’s kind of their point.
“We’d like people to question what they’re reading in the news, question what they’re looking at online and question what their own relationship is to technology,” Becker said.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 1st, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, app, apps, dog, dog poop, dogs, hoax, internet, on demand, pets, poop, pooper, satire, satirical, scam, scoop, scoopers, technology, uber
Just as Uber will whisk you where you need to go, the folks behind the new app Pooper — that’s right, Pooper — promise to pounce on and dispose of your dog’s poop, for a small fee, of course.
If it sounds like one of those hoax apps, well that’s entirely possible.
But until it’s exposed as such, I’m going to take it seriously — I, after all, having come up with the idea of poop valets long ago.
True, my idea was a bit more fanciful, and didn’t have an app; and true my idea was clearly tongue in cheek, unlike Pooper, whose professional-looking website leaves you thinking, hey, this might be real.
There, if they are to be believed, they have recruited the on-call staff necessary to answer your call when your dog answers nature’s.
Actually, no call is even necessary, assuming you are a subscriber. Just take a photo of your dog’s mess and send it on to the app. The location is sent out to all members of the local scooping team, who we we can only presume are standing by excitedly.
One of them accepts the mission — we assume they are on a first come, first served basis — and goes to the scene and cleans it up.
Pooper, as the ad above puts it, allows you to put “your dog’s poop in someone else’s hands.”
Three kinds of monthly “subscriptions” are available, according to the pooperapp website.
For $15 a month, you get two scoops a day within a 15-mile radius; for $25, you get three scoops a day over a 30-mile radius (and yes, you can rollover unused scoops); for $35 you can have the “elite plan,” unlimited scoops, unlimited radius.
Pooper says the service is good for the environment.
And just like Uber drivers, Pooper scoopers — for whom we don’t imagine there will be too intense a screening process — could cash in.
Scoopers will be able to sign up for scooping duties, though the website says no more are needed during the Beta period.
“Anyone with a smart phone can scoop for us. Scoopers are paid per-scoop, use their own mode of transportation – car, bike, scooter, hiking boots – and scoop on their own schedule,” says the website.
Even though they ripped off my idea, I hold no ill will against the people behind Pooper — at least not until they get unbelievably rich. (Then I will have all kinds of ill will.)
In today’s world, such intellectual thefts have become commonplace, though I must admit they run counter to my very personal belief that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.
Besides, I’m busy brainstorming a new project that just might put Pooper out of business, if they are really in business to begin with.
That involves coming up with a way to get all those people already walking the streets while playing Pokémon Go to pick up dog poop for free.
Bonus points, maybe.
(Photos and video from Pooperapp.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, app, clean up, dog, dog poop, dogs, feces, hoax, pets, pick-up, Pokémon, pokemon go, poop, poop valet, pooper, pooper app, scoop, scoopers, scooping, uber, waste
And yet, thousands of good-hearted souls were apparently fooled by a Facebook post of a dog with a slice of ham draped over his eyes and snout.
Two days before Christmas, the photo was posted on Facebook by a man — equal parts grinch and troll, we suspect — who offered this description:
“This poor dog was badly burned and disfigured trying to save his family from a house fire. One like = one prayer. One share = ten prayers.
Many of the animal lovers of Facebook — and their numbers are legion — went on to like it, share it and leave comments voicing their best wishes for the pooch.
Perhaps it’s because the ham slice does look a little like bloodied gauze. Perhaps it was the prayer request that accompanied the photos. Perhaps Christmas spirit had a little to do with the outpouring of well wishes that followed the posting.
With many dog lovers, compassion kicks in immediately — reflexively, even — and long before their cynicism does.
(We’d only hope that none of the well-wishers went so far as to send any donations to the jerk who wrote the post.)
Stephen Roseman, a few days after posting the photo and desciption on Facebook, explained in a comment that it was all a joke:
“People, people this isn’t even my dog, I found this picture on fascistbook, stole it, and decided to use it in a prank to fool these religitards.
“So I did, and low and behold idiots left and right fall for it, and those that didn’t, seem to think they have a superior intelligence or something, for pointing out the obvious.
“Keep in mind, I never told a single soul to like this, that is their choice, I don’t give a f*ck either way.”
Apparently Roseman was trying to pull a fast one — not just on those sensitive and soft-hearted types who fell for the story, but on those more cynical ones who voiced the opinion that the story was clearly fake.
Roseman apparently has no use for either of those.
Fortunately, for him, soliciting prayers (and shares) under false pretenses is not a crime (a sin, maybe, but not a crime). So it’s likely his only punishment — assuming those death threats against him are idle chatter — will be losing some Facebook friends.
“I’ve literally lost count on how many death threats I’ve accumulated because of Ham Dog,” he said in a subsequent Facebook comment. “I’m not concerned, but rather amused, regardless, I’m armed everywhere I go anyways. I find it motivating…”
The prank has since been exposed and straightened out by Snopes.com and several news media outlets.
But not before thousands had responded, many of them voicing sympathy and passing on their prayers. Using his own, shares-to-prayers formula, the dog got 1.3 million of them.
We have only one of our own to pass along: That lo and behold (that’s lo, Stephen, with no “w”) Stephen Roseman might one day grow up.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, burned, disfigured, dog, dogs, facebook, fire, fooled, ham, hoax, house, like, pets, post, prayers, share, slice, snout, social media, stunt
According to her obituary, published in Saturday’s Connecticut Post, Norma Brewer’s dog contributed to her death — chewing off her boots and socks, leading her to succumb from hypothermia.
According to the obituary, this occurred while Brewer, who was 83 and in a wheelchair, was attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.
“There is suspicion that Mrs. Brewer died from hypothermia, after Mia ate Mrs. Brewer’s warm winter boots and socks,” read the death notice, which had been submitted to the newspaper by a funeral home.
Brewer, the death notice read, never realized her life goal of reaching the summit of the 19,341-foot mountain.
But, it said, she had made it to the base camp, where she died in the company of her daughter, her cats and dog “Mia.”
If all this is sounding a little too unbelievable to be true, that may be because it isn’t — not entirely.
While Norma did die, the obituary was a joke — one final prank (or was it?) from a woman known in life as quite a prankster.
She wrote it before she died, and left instructions for her children to get it published in the local newspaper — the same local newspaper where her father was once president and publisher.
Good one, Norma.
“It was just typical mom,” Donna Brewer, Norma’s daughter, said Saturday. “She always had stories, many of which were not true, but thought were funny.”
“People who don’t know my mother are bemused,” she added. “People who know my mother are laughing and saying, `Yeah, that’s Norma.’ ”
Donna Brewer said her mother died from a stroke and had been wheelchair-bound for more than a year.
The Post corrected the record in a news story Saturday.
Norma, as her obituary accurately noted, was the daughter of W. Raymond Flicker, former president and publisher of the Bridgeport Post, Telegram and Sunday Post (now known as the Connecticut Post). Donna Brewer said her mother often recalled watching newspapers come off the printing press in Bridgeport with her father.
Norma’s son, Raymond Brewer, said his mother’s prank “had more to do with the way she viewed the world. While life is serious, it shouldn’t be taken all that serious.”
He said her children went along with her last wish. “It was her way of having one last joke with the world,” he said.
Funeral services for Norma Brewer were held yesterday in Fairfield.
(Photo: Connecticut Post)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 2nd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ate, boots, connecticut post, death, death notice, dog, dogs, hoax, hypothermia, mia, mount kilimanjaro, norma brewer, obit, obituary, pets, prank, prankster, socks
A beagle named Sherlock, in the employ of KLM airlines, is recovering and returning items lost by travelers at an Amsterdam Airport — or so this video would have you believe.
But — no shit, Sherlock — the beagle is bogus.
Once again, advertising geniuses have duped the public, and the media, via the Internet.
I’m sure those geniuses don’t see it that way — just creative license, they’d say — but the story of the little beagle reuniting passengers with their lost items is a tall tale, aimed at giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling when it comes to KLM.
Earlier this week the Dutch airline posted the video on YouTube.
Three days later it had 3 million views. New outlets were writing about the amazing pooch who, through his powers of scent, was reuniting travelers with their lost items.
A day or two later, they were writing about him again — once they realized it was, if not an out and out hoax, a creative stretching of the truth.
The video posted on YouTube carried this description: “KLM’s dedicated Lost & Found team at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is on a mission to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. From a teddy bear found by the cabin crew to a laptop left in the lounge. Locating the owners can sometimes be a challenge, so special forces have been hired…”
KLM managed to reach millions with the bogus beagle story, virtually for free — even before it appeared as a paid advertisement.
The advertising agency explained their creative process as follows:
“We were told that the members of KLM’s Lost & Found team sometimes track down passengers before they even realize they’ve lost something,” “We feel they are a bit like detectives. So to illustrate that KLM goes above and beyond for their passengers, we decided to involve a search dog.”
On one hand, you’ve got to admire their ability to get so much ink — I mean so many hits — without spending a dime.
On the other hand, should we really trust a company that’s pulling the wool, or in this case fur, over our eyes?
(Woof in Advertising is an occasional feature on ohmidog! that looks at how dogs are used in advertising. For more Woof in Advertising posts, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 26th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: advertising, air, airlines, animal, beagle, bogus, dog, dogs, dogs in advertising, fake, found, hoax, items, klm, lost, marketing, media, pets, returned, sherlock, travel, woof in advertising
With help from an Olympic luger, Twitter and a dog who is at least part wolf, Jimmy Kimmel has once again put one over on the news media.
Then again, fooling the news media has a very low degree of difficulty these days.
Kimmel conspired with 21-year-old luger Kate Hansen, under whose name the video was posted on Twitter and elsewhere.
“I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi,” she said in a comment accompanying the video on YouTube.
Pretty much every major news outlet quickly picked up the story Thursday, echoing the Olympian’s cry of wolf, and apparently forgetting the entire moral of that fable.
USA Today was among those setting the record straight today — generally in a humorous vein that didn’t focus on how any laziness on the media’s part might have contributed to being duped.
Hansen, who finished competing Feb. 11 and is staying at the Olympic village, tweeted the video with the hashtag #sochiproblems and #sochifail. The hashtag was commonly used by visitors to Sochi for complaints surrounding the Games, including some about stray dogs.
Kimmel came clean last night, revealing the set created in the studio to resemble the dormitory corridor, and the wolf-dog, named Rugby.
Hansen appeared, via Skype, on the show as well, and said she has experienced some repercussions for the role she played.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dogs, dormitory, frenzy, hansen, hoax, kate hansen, luge, luger, media, olympics, pets, prank, Sochi, twitter, video, wolf, wolves, youtube
Just when I proclaim this quite a week for wieners (dogs and franks), there’s more late breaking wiener news: The world’s oldest hot dog — possibly the world’s first hot dog — has been unearthed at Coney Island, CNN and others reported.
CNN posted a story about the “discovery” of a “140-year-old hot dog” after officials at the Coney Island History Project put an “ancient” frankfurter — bun and all — on display, saying it was unearthed during the demolition of Feltman’s Kitchen, said to be where the first hot dog was made.
“1st Hot Dog,” read a sign next to the display. To the embarassment of CNN and others who picked up the story — to be frank, they didn’t check the facts — it was all just a publicity stunt, aimed at creating interest in an exhibition this summer of real artifacts from the Feltman’s site, the New York Post says.
“The recent discovery by an amateur archaeologist of the ‘140 Year Old Feltman’s Hot Dog’ encased in ice along with a bun, [and] an original receipt from Feltman’s, … was a publicity stunt in the grand tradition of Coney Island ballyhoo,” said Tricia Vita, spokeswoman for the history project.
She said that the hoax was an example of Coney Island’s history of P.T. Barnum-type hype. Even though the ancient hot dog was said to be found “encased in ice” by archaelogists, the story was gobbled right up.
(It was Barnum, I believe, who said a sucker was born every minute. That rate has increased to about every millisecond, thanks to the Internet.)
“I was surprised in the beginning at how many people believed it was true,” Vita said. “But after reading all the buzz about it on Twitter and the Internet, I’m not really that surprised because people want to believe these types of things are true.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 140-year-old hot dog, ancient, antique, cnn, coney island, coney island history project, feltman's, fooled, frankfurter, hoax, hot dog, joke, journalism, media, new york, news, oldest, publicity stunt, report, reporting, sucker, wiener