Google has announced it is skipping its traditional April Fools’ Day jokes and pranks across its platforms due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company said that it was focused on being “helpful to people” and would not launch any hoax products as it has in previous years.
Google usually releases numerous April Fools’ jokes each year, which are intended as light-hearted stunts to amuse the internet. Many of the joke features are actually released to the public, allowing them to play with the updates for the day.
There have been so many of the pranks that they have been given their own – very lengthy – Wikipedia article, documenting each year’s jokes. The tradition started in 2000, very soon after Google had first formed.
“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 the team.
“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.”
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.
Rival Microsoft already opted to stop the jokes last year. A message from its head of marketing noted that the jokes are often not amusing, can have limited positive impact, generate “unwanted news cycles” and that there is “more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day”.