An image of a pregnant Donald Trump being held lovingly by Vladimir Putin has gone viral after it was projected onto a succession of buildings across Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The startling image – accompanied by the hashtag #lovethroughhate – caught the imagination of New Yorkers after it began appearing on Valentine’s Day.

But what appears to be a satirical illustration is actually an ad campaign for a new dating app that links people together through shared hatreds.

The image first appeared on Valentine’s Day at the corner of West 14th Street and 8th Avenue, the borderline between two districts: Greenwich Village and the fashionable gay hub of Chelsea.

It then popped up again that evening at the corner of Wythe Avenue and North 6th Street in Brooklyn, and returned to Chelsea on Wednesday, when it was projected onto the Apple store.

Predictably, New York’s army of cynics loved the stunt, taking to Twitter to share photos of the ad and joke around about its content.

And of course, many were happy to make sure the president was aware of the pop-up installation.

‘What a warm and lovely embrace!’ remarked Dustin Osterman. ‘@realDonaldTrump you’re glowing!’

‘Putin didn’t pull out of Crimea either,’ joked Sir Pennypacker.

And a user named Mercedes had a more positive take on the stunt: ‘Through humour, hate can turn into love.’

The image clearly references the ongoing revelations about links between Trump’s election aides and the Russian government, which also hacked and leaked Democratic Party emails during the election.

But in fact there was no grand political message behind the project – the whole thing was designed to promote Hater, a new dating app for the bile-fueled and furious.

The app, created by Goldman Sachs employee-turned-comedian Brendan Alper, works like Tinder – but instead of swiping people, you’re swiping concepts.

What do you think of building the wall, the app asks? Or Cargo shorts? Or avocados?

Users swipe down to hate, up to love, left to dislike or right to like, and the app then matches them up with similarly angry folks nearby.

It’s been in trial in New York since December, writes Mashable, and the number-one most hated topic is, as you might expect from the ultra-liberal city, the recent presidential election.

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