Google to skip April Fools’ Day pranks amid coronavirus

Google will skip its traditional April Fools’ Day jokes and pranks across its platforms due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.

“Under normal circumstances, April Fool’s is a Google tradition and a time to celebrate what makes us an unconventional company,” Google’s marketing chief, Lorraine Twohill, wrote in an email to company brass obtained by Business Insider.

“This year, we’re going to take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. 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,” she continued.

“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.”

Google’s first foray into April Fools’ Day pranks was in 2000, when it unleashed the MentalPlex hoax in which users were invited to project a mental image of what they were seeking while staring at a GIF — prompting multiple funny error messages.

Among the other jokes over the years were reports of a plan for human settlement of Mars, a mic-drop button on Gmail and “Google Translate for Animals.”

CEO Sundar Pichai has also encouraged staffers — most of whom are working remotely — to volunteer in their communities during the pandemic and increased the company’s employee donation matching to $10,000 per employee per year, according to Business Insider.