Even though we’re subconsciously aware of the day, the first of April always tends to creep up on us. It isn’t till we jump on Facebook or Twitter and foolishly click on a link to an incredibly far-fetched story that we realize it’s the biggest troll holiday of the year. Since the first Internet April Fools' Day prank, Google, Netflix, and everyone else have felt obligated to continue the virtual shenanigans. So in celebration of the day’s online hysterics, we look back at some of the Internet’s greatest April Fools' pranks.
Google Tapping Into The Mind With MentalPlex
Google’s history with April foolery began in earnest at the start of the Millennium. The search engine Goliath introduced a telepathic feature called MentalPlex that used special technology to conduct web searches by reading your mind. Instructions were to stare at a revolving shape on the computer screen until MentalPlex scanned your brain for results. God bless the naïve ones who ruined their vision testing it.
Kodak Recommends You Relationshiffft
Everyone wishes they could have their exes eradicated from past photos with just a few clicks. Kodak’s answer: “Status change? Don’t delete…Relationshiffft!” The digital imaging icon promised a new app capable of removing anyone from an image or video courtesy of its 12-side dodo-pixel technology. Alas, the app was nothing more than a marketing ploy. Way to break hearts Kodak! Look where that got you.
The Dead Fairy Hoax
England sculptor Dan Baines became a viral sensation after posting photos of what he claimed to be the mummified remains of a dead fairy on his website. Supposedly discovered in the Derbyshire countryside, the 8-inch figure was supposedly examined by archaeologists and forensic experts who confirmed its authenticity. Baines went on to admit the entire thing was a hoax, but not before proving that stupidity was indeed contagious online, fetching bids for the prop on eBay as high as £280.00. Not to mention he received emails four days later from people suggesting he was covering up the incident and to “let the illusion continue.” Gotta love conspiracy theorists.
Netflix Reveals New Oddly Detailed Categories
We’ll never know the real science behind Netflix’s Recommendation Algorithm. And on this day, many of us were convinced it applied the same code to its content genres after encountering such implausible offerings. The streaming service had some fun with subscribers by adding several amusing categories to the site: including “Movies Featuring an Epic Nicholas Cage Meltdown,” “Surreal Ballets Based on a William Shatner Album,” and “Reality TV About People With No Concept of Reality,” just to name a few. So we made the best of a terribly hilarious situation and indulged in a Nic Cage marathon. Don’t judge us.
Google Maps Goes 8-Bit
Google blew our geek minds away when turning its needful mapping tool into an 8-bit version "designed for the Nintendo Entertainment System," which paid homage to the Dragon Warrior series. Those in search of directions on Google Maps were met with a low-res mapping application that resembled something out of an old-school RPG and recreated historical landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Martin Luther King Memorial, and Statue of Liberty in pixelated form. Typing in the Konami Code unlocked a real-time tour of the Oval Office. We’re kidding, of course.
Funny or Die Turns Into A Belieber
Better known as that time the Internet suffered a near-heart attack, Funny or Die scared us silly announcing it sold the comedy video site to Justin Bieber and was rebranding it “Bieber or Die.” They joked about the platform being used for “whatever his tiny little heart desires” and how the entire staff was “required to wear high tops” at the office. Not hard to believe at all if true. Needless to say the Web Gods spared us that day.
Starbucks Mobile Pour
Two things you should never do to someone—mess with their emotions and, more importantly, their coffee. Starbucks pretty much straddled the fence when announcing a new app called Mobile Pour that allowed java addicts to order a cup of brew delivered directly by a scooter-riding barista at their requested location. The service was teased online and later revealed as a joke. All it did was just stimulate our craving for an Iced Caramel Macchiato with subliminal advertising.
That Time YouTube RickRolled the World
Admit it. You’ve fallen victim to the bait-and-switch meme before. Happens to the best of us. YouTube chose to capitalize on the prank’s popularity, trolling its viewing community by linking every featured clip on its home page to Rick Astley’s music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The move made complete fools of the entire planet and ironically transformed the ‘80s pop star into a modern cultural icon. Though we’re sure he could care less considering the $12 performance share royalty he received for having his likeness and name exploited on the video-sharing website. Ouch!
The Guardian Becomes a Twitter-Only Publication
Truth be told, the idea of a newspaper going full-on social media isn’t too far off. But when the prestigious UK publication announced plans to forgo 200 years of print in favor of publishing news and its entire archive exclusively through Twitter, the industry was left in a momentary state of shock. That was until we made sense of everything and saw there was no realistic way of conveying the news in 140 characters.
Google Translate for Animals
The voice translation program has made life incredibly easier by drastically changing the way we interact with foreigners. So when Google released a YouTube video promoting an Android version of Google Translate for animals, many presumed it was on the verge of bridging the communication gap between man and beast. Don’t think so. Pet lovers discovered the app was a farce. Then they came to the realization that it doesn’t require any technology, let alone a genius to determine whether their furry pals need food or to simply defecate on the front porch.
Warner Bros. Buys The Pirate Bay
Hollywood’s most prolific film studio acquiring the torrent kingpin inspired a massive WTF. TorrentFreak set P2P forums ablaze after falsely reporting Warner Bros. snatched up the rogue file-sharing site for $13 billion. The thought of losing out on countless movie and porn downloads nearly left us crippled at our desktops for hours. Word came out that it was all a joke pulled by the site in good humor. Not cool. But kinda cool.
Hulu Travels Back to 1996
Ever wondered what video-on-demand would have looked like back in the dial-up era? For a moment in time, Hulu entertained the idea by giving its content-streaming site a nostalgic makeover that made you question whether your iPad was hacked to run Windows ‘98. It re-skinned the home page to look like a Geocities site and promoted the “latest” episodes available for popular ‘90s programs like News Radio, Sliders, and The X-Files. It was a bittersweet reminder of how old we really are.
Gmail Sending Emails to the Past
Google has not perfected time travel, at least from what we know. Gmailers, however, were temporarily convinced Google broke through the time vortex by promoting a new feature dubbed Custom Time that let users alter the timestamp of an email sent, tricking receivers into thinking they’ve had the message sitting in their inbox all along. Once reading the service “utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality (see Grandfather Paradox)” we caught onto the Back to the Future quip and knew there was no real quick fix for sending out job reports or term papers late.