Comment of the Day: “Google Shows What’s Wrong With April Fooling”


Extradimensional Cephalopod adds to the April Fool’s Day ethics lore on Ethics Alarms, commenting on the post about Google’s “Mic Drop” debacle.I especially like the three April Fool’s Day guidelines at the end.

Here is EC’s Comment of the Day on the post, Google Shows What’s Wrong With April Fooling:

The button popped up on the night of March 31st, and my first reaction was, “Get this thing off my email. It’s not useful. I never want to end a conversation. The gif isn’t funny, it’s mediocre and completely immature. There’s too many ways for this to go horribly wrong. What kind of slush-for-brains thought this was a good idea? Why are they allowed to walk around unsupervised and hold down a job like a real adult? Why doesn’t Google have a strategy-user looking at the April Fool’s pranks to check for danger?”

To the people who think that it’s the users’ own fault for clicking the button, it is technically true that they could have avoided their problems by being more careful, but it’s companies’ job to make things safe and robust. To paraphrase Gru, “My email provider has been leaving little bombs all over my menu and I don’t appreciate it.”

Perhaps this example can illustrate it more clearly: At night your car company put in a lever next to the turn signal that causes the steering wheel to paint your face like a clown’s and it won’t come off for 24 hours. It’s got a clear note saying what it does. Anyone who thinks that’s an acceptable prank needs to experience childhood again with better parents.

A good April Fool’s prank should

1) not hinder or inconvenience anyone physically or informationally

2) not make a workflow riskier and less user-friendly (Google violated this)

3) be obviously ridiculous, especially if it contains any misinformation.

4) not lead to a change in people’s behavior even if they do believe it

5) not reduce the dignity or trust of a serious position (a bit subjective, but there is such a thing as taste–college professors can volunteer to be pied in the face; politicians shouldn’t)

6) ideally, have a lot of craftsmanship and effort put into it.

5 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Google Shows What’s Wrong With April Fooling”

  1. I once created a fake girlfriend on Facebook named “April Fulls”. I then had to gently explain what was going on to a real ex…

  2. There is a nastiness lurking behind many April fools jokes. Many of them are designed to humiliate, frighten, or confuse some innocent victim. Most of them are planned by jerks who have a narcissistic need to feel superior to others. If the victim gets mad, the slimeball’s fallback position is to say: Hey, can’t you take a joke!!”

  3. It would seem to me that the “drop Mic” should have done no more than create a pop up saying “April Fools”. Even then, it just promotes writing nasty emails meant to “win” some dispute. The danger would be hitting the real send, and releasing this nastiness to the world.

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