Google is cancelling its legendary April Fool's Day jokes this year because of the pandemic

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Google is cancelling its legendary April Fool's Day jokes this year because of the pandemic

google ceo sundar pichai

REUTERS/Yves Herman

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google

  • Google is cancelling its legendary April Fool's Day jokes this year.
  • The company is worried about seeming in bad taste if it went ahead with them due to the pandemic.
  • In an email obtained by Business Insider, it asked managers to make sure no teams were still planning pranks.
  • "Please suss out those efforts and make sure your teams pause on any jokes they may have planned," the email by Google's marketing boss Lorraine Twohill said.
  • In previous years, Google has added treasure hunts to Google Maps and announced plans for a human settlement on Mars.
  • But society is now in the grips of a pandemic that has sickened more than half a million people and killed more than 23,000.

Google is rushing to cancel its plans for April Fool's Day this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email obtained by Business Insider, the company asked workers to ensure that any plans they have for the traditionally prank-filled holiday are put on hold lest they be considered in poor taste.

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Google's April Fool's Day pranks have historically been extremely elaborate affairs that have become the stuff of tech legends - from announcing a spurious plan for a human settlement on Mars to adding a mic drop button to Gmail, adding a "treasure hunt" option to Google Maps, and adding "Google Translate for Animals."

But over the last few months COVID-19 has sickened more than half a million people around the globe and killed more than 23,000, bringing economies to a screeching halt and sparking unprecedented numbers of layoffs. As such, Google has now taken the decision not to run any centralized April Fool's day jokes - and is urging managers to make sure no smaller gags slip through the net.

"Under normal circumstances April Fool's is a Google tradition and a time to celebrate what makes us an unconventional company," Google marketing boss Lorraine Twohill wrote in an email to the company's managers.

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"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.

"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."

In part guided by Google's lead, ambitious April Fool's Day pranks have become widespread across the tech industry over the last decade. It's not yet clear if other companies still plan to go ahead with theirs, or if they will follow Google's lead and put the traidition on ice for a year.

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Like almost every other business, Google is feeling the effects of the coronavirus. Its workforce is largely working remotely, and it recently opted to delay performance reviews to focus on "mission-critical activities." Earlier this week, it extended the contracts of temporary workers who were due to leave amid the pandemic, and it has faced criticism internally for allegedly not doing enough to protect some contract workers.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has also encouraged employees to volunteer in their local communities during the pandemic, and is boosting the company's employee donation matching to $10,000 per employee per year.

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