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Creators of Fake ‘Tinder for Fighting’ App Are ‘Disappointed’ It Went Viral

What can we learn from Rumblr?
Screengrab: app.getrumblr.com

Rumblr, an unreleased Tinder-style app for finding people to "throw down" with, set the internet on fire for all of four days last week before the unbelievable tale ended in the absolute worst way possible: the whole thing was a stunt cooked up by an unknown ad agency called von Hughes.

Everyone from Business Insider to New York Magazine, and, yes, VICE, wrote about the app ahead of its supposed release with varying degrees of skepticism. Regardless, we all fell into the same trap—we had some real hot-shit content on our hands, and if it proved to be a hoax, apologies and updates could always come later. And they did.

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Now, even the app's creators are piling on the guilt train, saying they're very disappointed that news sites couldn't see through the now-obvious hoax.

"We expected that these publishers would have made sure that they had some tangible evidence of the story they were reporting," the von Hughes team—Matt, Jack, and Andrew, according to a separate Rumblr press release—wrote me in an email. "Writers researched social media and other news outlets for information without double checking, put it through their own 'writing filter,' and called it a story. That was a little disappointing."

"We have consumed a lot of content from these sources ourselves"

Shaming the media for reporting on a shaky story is pretty rich coming from von Hughes, since they swore up and down in an interview with the New York Daily News that the app was real and had secured funding from "private American investors." It's not like they didn't try their damnedest to make Rumblr seem legitimate enough to warrant some incredulous coverage.

That being said, the von Hughes boys have a point: Rumblr isn't the only crazy-sounding app in the last month to launch a thousand takes despite not having anything to actually show for it. Peeple, which inspired takes in the Washington Post, The Guardian, and on this very site, was widely derided and dubbed the "Yelp for people," since it would let users rate each other and leave feedback.

The app apparently went through a redesign, and its creators showed up on Dr. Phil. But what it hasn't done is actually launch. Maybe it will, and maybe it won't—there's certainly been enough speculation that the whole thing is a Rumblr-esque gag. No, the media didn't get immediately burned by Peeple like we did with Rumblr, but we still could.

As for how the von Hughes crew feels about the state of tech journalism in the post-Peeple and Rumblr age, they're "a little disappointed and disheartened as we have consumed a lot of content from these sources ourselves," they wrote.

In the fast-moving and blustery world of tech development—and tech media—the demarcations between "real," soon-to-be-"real," speculative, maliciously bogus, and a total troll are blurry and intertwining. In this environment, mistakes will be made. At the very least, maybe we should wait until something actually exists before freaking out.