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Read our latest newsletter: February 2017.

Ill-conceived preggo app ought to be Knocked out

by Jessica Van Sack

I opened up my mail yesterday morning to find a picture of my face transposed onto a cartoonish pregnant body that appeared on a plastic iPhone case, which was pinned to a diaper that someone had written a note on.

A handful of colleagues gathered around my desk, a little creeped out, a little baffled. After digesting the image of faux preggo me, we looked further to realize this was a (bizarre) form of marketing from the makers of a mobile app. Available on Apple and Android, the “Knocked App” lets you snap a picture of anyone and morph the subject’s belly into what resembles that of a very pregnant woman. It was a PR pitch aimed at getting me to write about it.

Memo to the makers: Be careful what you wish for.

Please don’t download this app. Let’s make our own “pregnancy pact” — no offense to Gloucester — an agreement to collectively never spend more than the 99 cents I just did to purchase Knocked App. (I had to make sure it was real.) I hesitate to give it any press at all. But the unfortunate truth is they’ve got a following in their home country of Australia, and now they’re targeting the U.S. market.

A YouTube video promoting the app features a cadre of pregnant teens dancing around their high school hallway in scene straight out of “Glee.”

“We think that’s gonna be our target market,” said app maker Kevin Lippy, 28, who was kind enough to call me after I emailed him Down Under.

Lippy then made the dubious suggestion the app might raise awareness about teen pregnancy. At one point during the app’s ad, the screen reads “1 in 3 teens fall pregnant every year. Help make that 2 in 3.”

The marketing materials for Knocked App are full of gems like “digital pregnancy is longer overdue” and “the knocked app concept is ultra sound.” The app claims to be “pro-laugh.” Yet as any woman who’s been through a real pregnancy can tell you, it’s not a joke.

“Once again women’s reproductive rights are being exploited,” said Jane Doe spokeswoman Toni Troop.

Fresh off Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s high-profile ignorance about reproductive biology and “legitimate rape,” Lippy’s Aussie trio is attempting to capitalize on a different but equally insidious level of callousness.

My own indignant feelings aside, there’s a good chance this app will indeed reach its target audience. Teens are going to download it and they’re going to laugh about it with their friends. The trick, experts say, is how adults respond.

“Let’s make sure this isn’t the only message kids get about teen pregnancy,” said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. “We’ve got some work to do. We don’t get to make sure nobody sees that app. But we can encourage parents to use it as an opportunity to talk about sexual health and risks. They (teens) need our help to think more deeply about it.”


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