April Fools' Day Mischief Abounds On The Internet
April 1, 2014

Media Enlists Pokemon And The Royal Family In April Fools’ Day Pranks

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Check your calendar. It's April 1. You may need to remind yourself that it's April Fools' Day as you read the news today. This is the day to play pranks, and media sites can write "too unbelievable to be true" stories that would normally be reserved for publications such as The Onion. Sites that normally report serious news pepper their pages with a few fictitious headlines to keep you on your toes. Many corporations also jump to get in on the action, which can occasionally create headlines before they are discovered as pranks. RedOrbit rounded up a few of these stories, and some history.

One true story that preempted the day of pranks is Punk'd!: The origins of April Fools' Day that appeared in USA Today. The website Museum of Hoaxes curator Alex Boese said it is possible April Fools' Day is a hazing ritual to welcome spring. The beginning of the new season was observed with "mischief, misbehavior or deception," Boese told USA Today. The article dates the quirky holiday back to 1561, when Flemish writer Eduard de Dene documented it in a poem. The poem tells the tale of a nobleman who sends his servant on absurd errands on April 1.

The tradition lives on, and there are many people who could use some lighthearted mischief, misbehavior and deception to lift the chill of this past harsh winter.

Before most in the United States woke up on April 1 the holiday was already underway. The Telegraph rounded up some of the highlights. Aussies will appreciate that one company from down under posted on its Facebook page they would launch a new product. "Start your day with our NEW Vegemite iDRINK 2.1 energy Drink! Will you swap your Vegemite toast for this when you're on the go?"

One school in Sydney, Australia sent a text alert to parents of students announcing that the school would be closed for the day due to fire damage. It is probable that no kids were laughing when they found out that the school was still intact, and they did have to go to school.

One Kiwi company got in on the act. A coach company in New Zealand, InterCity Coachlines, perhaps exercised a little wishful thinking. The company issued a press release announcing that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George commissioned the company for transportation during their upcoming trip "in keeping with their frugal, down-to-earth public image," the release said, according to the Telegraph UK. Though InterCity said it would spruce up one of its coaches to receive the royal family. "While the route Wills and Kate will be travelling on cannot be revealed for security reasons, InterCity has confirmed that it is busy enhancing its best coach with a fit-out suitable for young royals; including a top of the range baby capsule for 8-month-old Prince George and plush Lazy-Boy recliners for the royal couple," the release said.

Pokemon is in the wild, and Google Japan said on its blog early Tuesday that Google Maps could be used to track and aid in the capture of the little creatures created by Nintendo, The Next Web reports. The publication ran its own round-up of April Fools' Day pranks from Google for the year.

The search giant is known for its observances of April Fools' Day. One thing that Google isn't joking about, notes the Next Web, is that Gmail marks its 10th anniversary today. The webmail service was first introduced on April 1, 1004. The Google guys behind Gmail did have some fun to mark these 10 years by introducing the Gmail Shelfie, or the Shareable sELFIE, reports the Huffington Post.

"Gmail Shelfie is built on the idea that you shouldn’t be selfish with your selfie. With just a few clicks, your mom, your aunt, or that girl you have a crush on can set your Shelfie as their Gmail theme so they can enjoy checking, reading, and writing emails while seeing your friendly face in the background," the company said on the Gmail blog.

On April 1 each year, and 2014 is no exception, the web is crawling with pranks and a little mischief. Before sharing a shocking story with your friends on Facebook, ask yourself if the story is too unbelievable to be true, because it probably is. Share it anyway, but share it knowing you're carrying on with the mischief.