Internet pranked by ‘Facebook for Drunks’ app

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Livr’s Breathalyzer-based ‘social network’

A social network that caters exclusively to drunks and requires actual Breathalyzer proof of drunkenness using an actual Breathalyzer to log in? Must be a joke, right?

Of course it's a joke, but that hasn't stopped The Internet - including a number of tech news sites - from taking this "social network" seriously, or the "founders" from promising to make a splash at the SXSW extravaganza kicking off in Austin today. (We'll hear from one of the "founders" in a minute.)

Called Livr and pronounced liver (as in the bodily organ you'll be endangering), the "social network's" super-slick introductory video has its moments, assuming you're not offended by alcohol-abuse humor. It should also be - but hasn't been -- all anyone needs to conclude that this is a joke, literally.

Personally, I thought the Blackout Button was a bit over the top, even for a parody.

Yet Twitter is all abuzz with gushing admirers clamoring for a chance to join Livr. While some are undoubtedly feigning interest in what they know is a joke, there remain way too many who obviously don't get it.

Journalists among them:

  • An Engadget writer yuks it up but doesn't question.
  • The Independent of London arches nary an eyebrow.
  • The Daily Mail at least suggests the possibility that this is a parody, though the suggestion comes at the very bottom of an otherwise straight story.
  • A blogger at Crazy Engineers - motto: "We believe 'crazy' gives a positive spin to engineering" - apparently sees nothing crazy about a "social network" built on competitive drunkenness.
  • PocketLint opts to raise the wrong issues: "Whether it will be free or not isn't clear but presumably you'll need to buy the Breathalyzer."

Presumably. If this wasn't a joke.

So what do the "founders" have to say for themselves? Just so there would be no misunderstanding my level of disbelief, here's what I asked them via email: "What's the end game here? Straight publicity stunt? Marketing guys hoping to bag a few clients at SXSW? Or maybe it's one of those try-to-fool-the-media hoaxes?"

The reply from "co-founder Avery Platz" was a polite side-step that would make any politician proud:

livr

"Thanks for writing. We think the best ideas start as jokes too. But then why not just go the extra step and make it a reality?"

Why not? Oh, I don't know, because it would be bat-guano crazy?

"So far the response has been fantastic!" he continues. "In a world where Snapchat turns down $3B, there seems to be demand for a private place to have fun online. I think we've definitely tapped into something here."

That something would be the Internet's infinite supply of gullibility.

 "We'll see how everything shakes out at SXSW. Stay tuned..."

Notice that he didn't actually deny my - accusation, I guess you'd call it -- that this is all a joke.

Still tempted to believe?

OK, where's the Kickstarter plea? (I'm not seeing VCs rushing for a piece of this one. You?). Or never mind funding: Where can all of the Internet's dying-to-play-Livr types enter an email address for the beta? Or pre-orders? Or just to get alerts about upcoming news?... Not on the Livr website.

More? The alleged co-founders are virtual ghosts online. Try Googling "Avery Platz" and/or co-founder "Kyle Addison." Other than the stories they've generated with this stunt, I wasn't able to find a word about either. They're young, so maybe this is their first rodeo.

It's a joke. Yet every time I check there's another news site that has taken the bait.

Good one, guys.

(Update: Another blogger ... and another ... The Daily Dot ... Belgium joins the party.)

(Update 2: Brian Barrett at Gizmodo isn't buying either; nice to have company.)

(Update 3: The party behind the Livr joke has been dutifully tweeting and retweeting all of the stories and blog posts about it. Yet I haven't gotten my retweet yet. Wonder why. ... Oh, neither has Brian Barrett at Gizmodo.)

(Update 4: This reminds me of last year's "iPhone cup holder" story that was full of holes.)

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