Coronavirus: Google Cancels Annual April Fools’ Pranks

The seriousness of the Coronavirus pandemic around the world has prompted many corporations to change their usual operating procedures.

None more so than Google, after it recently pledged $800 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other organisations to help them fight the pandemic.

And on 1 April, Google traditionally inserts in April Fools’ pranks and jokes into its products, as part of its light-hearted approach to inject a bit of humour in the online world.

April Fool

In April 2016 for example, Google’s April Fools’ Day prank for its Gmail service backfired spectacularly.

The search giant was forced to pull the ‘Mic Drop’ joke feature from Gmail after some users complained that using it had permanently closed and deleted their conversations.

Google was forced to apologise after other users said that they had lost important work correspondence and even offended friends due to the feature.

The Mic Drop button appeared beside Gmail’s normal send button in 2016, and when clicked, allowed users to shut down an email thread by sending a gif of a Minion (see above) dropping a microphone.

But with the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world, Google has taken the decision not to carry out any pranks this year., with April Fools’ cancelled across Google’s entire platform.

Year off

According to an memo obtained by Business Insider, and verified by the Independent newspaper, Google said it would “take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Google’s head of marketing, Lorraine Twohill, urged managers to ensure that specific teams were not working on their own smaller projects that could be launched without the knowledge of those higher up in the company.

“Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one,” Twohill reportedly wrote.

“We’ve already stopped any centralised April Fool’s efforts but realize there may be smaller projects within teams that we don’t know about,” Twohill added. “Please suss out those efforts and make sure your teams pause on any jokes they may have planned – internally or externally.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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