Happy Belated April Fools! (I hope no one was too distraught over the spike in laundry prices.)

The maximization of the internet as an every-day commodity has caused major sites to wrack their brains to maximize their ability to attract audiences. April Fools is a prime time to do this.

Typically for the historic holiday, sites will try to do something funny or quirky that (hopefully) audiences can enjoy with a chuckle. 2013 was dominated in the geek-dom by Netflix’s announcement of Firefly season 2 (some are still bitter) and Google’s fantastic 2014 Pokemon hunt on Google Maps. Notable pranks of 2016 include…

  • Netflix: John Stamos Movies – all your boring netflix categories now with a touch of John Stamos!
    • ex: “Action Films” became “John Stamos’ Favorite Action Films He Wasn’t In”
  • Pornhub: Cornhub – The place for all your steamy, hot corn video needs
  • Tumblr: The Lizard Elections of 2016 – with the American Primaries coming to a close soon (hopefully. please.) Tumblr sees which lizard rules the internet!
    • Users were presented with a ballot and after voting recieved an “i voted” button on their icons and their boring tumblr blue layout turned into a CNN-stylized election-colored one (complete with news ticker and hourly updates of the poll standings)
    • for anyone interested, Mop won
  • Youtube: #Snoopavision – Now users can be immersed in a 360 degree video WITH commentary by Snoop Dogg himself!
    • Feature still up as of 4/2/16. Just click the suspicious looking icon of the man with dreadlocks

While these are only a handful of April fools internet pranks, these sites do see a spike in usage. Some only change things like titles and type faces, others (like cardsagainsthumanity.com in 2014) sell joke items like cow manure. The most popular are the interactive additions. As stated earlier, 2014 Google Maps was swamped with game fanatics searching for all 151 unique Pokemon spread across the globe. Tumblr users this year eagerly jumped on lizard campaigning to boost their preferred candidate’s opportunity. The global tomfoolery causes people to go “Oh that’s hilarious! I need to see this for myself” and to share with their friends.

However, some pranks just don’t gain enough traction. Or fail miserably. Take Google’s prank yesterday; Gmail’s “send + mic drop” option. The feature was quickly removed due to angry complaints. The feature allowed users to send their email replies with a gif of a minon dropping a mic (from the movie “Minions”), what has been culturally accepted as a “final say” gesture. Reports all over the country flew in of people accidentally sending the gif with emails of delicate nature (ex: family members passing away) and others even losing their jobs. The source of the complaints mainly revolve around the “send + mic drop” button being right next to the normal “send” button causing mis-clicks. 

Or Taylor Swift’s video of her battle with a treadmill, an advertisement for Apple Music (which Swift had filed a lawsuit against last year, settled in June) While the video was accepted as a “funny viral video” it doesn’t appear that Apple’s Music Streaming App saw an increase in downloads.  If anything many commented on the Swift’s shift from opposing to supporting Apple Music.

Both company’s attempt to bring some April foolishness to their audiences failed miserably. In Gmail’s case, the less than user-friendly option caused a huge unexpected firestorm, half from angry users and half from those who did not see the prank in time and spent the day disappointed with the “vanilla” Google site. Apple’s advertisement didn’t seem to boost anything except for some laughs at a famous singer. In either case, if you’re looking to do some April tomfoolery next year, make sure you think everything through especially in what you aim to accomplish aside from some internet jokes.

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