Google has decided to suspend April Fools’ Day plans this year, according to a leaked internal email.
Historically, Google used to mark the occasion with elaborate pranks and Easter eggs.
Now, with people relying on Google for information about the coronavirus pandemic, this is not not the time for jokes.
Lorraine Twohill, Google’s head of marketing, states in a memo obtained by Business Insider:
“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. We’ve already stopped any centralized April Fool’s efforts but realize there may be smaller projects within teams that we don’t know about. Please suss out those efforts and make sure your teams pause on any jokes they may have planned — internally or externally.”
It would not be ill advised for the entire web to follow Google’s lead on this front.
Attempting to pull off an April Fools’ joke in the midst of a global pandemic is not the best way for any brand to represent themselves.
What would have been considered in good taste just months ago may rub people the wrong way today.
A Look Back at Google’s April Fools’ Jokes
As Google sits April Fools’ Day out this year, let’s take a look back on some of its more recent jokes, pranks, and Easter eggs.
Google Pranks SEOs
In 2018, Google tried to pull one over on the SEO community with a manual “recrawl” button in Search Console.
For normal crawling and indexing, just use a sitemap file. To submit individual URLs, use Fetch as Google. But if you just want to click "↻ recrawl," we're never gonna let you down.
➡️ https://t.co/uoaCWUIrap ⬅️ pic.twitter.com/OyyDZJ5z8V
— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) March 31, 2018
Being able to trigger Googlebot to recrawl a site at any time is a feature SEOs would absolutely love.
Alas, it was too good to be true, as clicking on the “recrawl” button would only lead to getting Rick Rolled.
Where’s Waldo in Google Maps
Google once turned Google Maps into a game of Where’s Waldo in celebration of April Fools’.
It marked one of the rare times that an actual game with multiple levels was playable in Google Maps.
This game was a hit at the time and is something people still search for, believe it or not.
Google’s Joke Backfires
Google made a misstep in 2016 when it added a “mic drop” button to Gmail.
Unlike the Search Console “recrawl” button, which was fake, the “mic drop” button really worked.
As part of the prank, the “Send + Archive” button in Gmail was replaced with a “Send + Mic Drop” button.
Clicking on the button attached a gif where a Minion is seen making an emphatic gesture of dropping a microphone.
This joke was not well received, as many people unwittingly attached mic-dropping Minions to serious emails.
WHAT A HARMLESS APRIL FOOL'S JOKE, WHAT COULD GO WRONG pic.twitter.com/Maw8a6VUSA
— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) April 1, 2016
Realizing its mistake, Google issued an apology and pulled the feature within hours:
“Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. 😟 Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off.“
Google is surely avoiding another blunder by leaving the jokes aside this year.
Source: Business Insider
What was Google’s most infamous April Fools’ Day joke?
The Gmail “mic drop” button in 2016 is widely considered Google’s most infamous April Fools’ Day joke.
What is Google doing for April Fools’ Day this year?
Google is not planning any of its usual April Fools’ jokes in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.