Google scraps its April Fools’ jokes in wake of coronavirus

Paul Squire

Google is reportedly canceling its April Fools’ Day jokes this year because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The annual tradition was scrapped because execs feared the glib pranks would appear to be in poor taste, according to an internal email obtained by Business Insider.

“This year, we’re going to take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” Google’s head of marketing Lorraine Twohill wrote in the email to Google managers. “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.”

Twohill reportedly requested that managers pause any smaller jokes within their departments planned for April Fools’.

Google’s pranks in the past have allowed users to play Snake and Ms. Pac-Man in Google Maps and have included fake products like Google Nose and Google Tulip. Other major tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Spotify create their own pranks each year, though it’s not clear if those jokes will go on as planned in 2020.

Google has already had to shift its plans due to the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. The tech giant’s I/O conference was canceled due to the outbreak and Google has since added features like notices on searches for medical help for the disease.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced Google was working on a website that would direct people to coronavirus testing sites, a claim that Google later denied. Verily, a company under Google’s parent firm Alphabet, later released a much-more limited site servicing only California.

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.