These bad April fools that illustrate why this tradition is harmful

Every year, April 1 is an opportunity for many brands and news sites to publish false information under the guise of a humorous tradition. Here's why lots of April Fools don't make Idroid laugh anymore.

Update April 1, 2021: this editorial was originally published in 2019 as a rant against the poorly mastered april fools 'tradition' in tech, especially when it comes to fake news. We wanted to put it back forward following the news from Volkswagen.

Volkswagen invents the March fish

The car manufacturer's communications officials have indeed found it ingenious to very officially announce the change of the name of the group from Volkswagen in the United States to Voltswagen on March 30, 2021. We learned later in the same day that it It was ultimately a joke, an April Fool's Day, two days before D-Day.

At the time of the first leaks around this announcement, several sources feared that it was a fake or a bad joke. However, Volkswagen United States itself communicated on this subject by presenting the information as true and confirming the news to the media.

It was only then that the deception was exposed.

Screenshot of a Volkswagen tweet //

This is all the more problematic as we are talking here about a brand whose image had already been largely marred by the scandal over its thermal engines in 2015 and whose heart of the problem was precisely a concern for honesty.

It's hard to take the brand seriously after that.

  • The problem: to create false information well before the date of April 1 and on a sensitive subject moreover.

Our editorial from 2019

Be careful, your favorite news sites which have earned your trust over the days, and whose service is to keep you informed, may have tried to deceive you on April 1st. Here is how we could summarize what has become of April Fool's Day in recent years, where companies like news sites try to make people laugh and maybe become the star of social networks for a day, by forgetting a bit of their mission.

In 2019 and at a time when fake news is both credible and particularly dangerous, the “tradition” of April Fool's Day no longer really makes people laugh. This is because our job is to inform in the first place that the editorial staff of Idroid and Numerama have decided not to create April Fools' Day this year. Here are three examples that illustrate the problems of April XNUMXst.

To laugh, Discord handicaps the readability of visually impaired people

Discord is a fairly popular chat service, especially among gamers. For April XNUMX, as Numerama points out, the developers have decided to remove a feature from their application: the light theme, because it is much less popular than the so fashionable dark theme.

There were concerns about updating Discord

The problem is, the dark theme poses readability problems for people with astigmatism, who have a harder time reading white text on a dark background. The disappearance of the clear theme therefore quickly posed accessibility problems to the application. After several hours, including preventing outside developers from coming up with hacks to restore the clear theme, Discord ended up publicly apologizing and removing the April Fool's Day update.

  • The problem: creating accessibility difficulties to make people laugh

The slightly too credible fake news from cBanque

On March 25, Apple unveiled its first bank card in the United States at a conference. Launched in partnership with Goldman Sachs bank, this new card should not be offered anytime soon in Spain, a banking market totally different from the United States. This did not prevent the specialized site cBanque from creating an April Fool's Day article lying about the arrival of the card in Spain.

The fake news from cBanque

The site has had the bad taste to do everything to ensure that the article is credible, nothing is exaggerated and everything is treated as if it were exclusive information obtained by a specialized site anxious to inform its readership on the arrival of a great name in Spain. The only way to know it's an April Fool's Day is to “sign up to be among the lucky first 1000,” with a link that points to a very self-explanatory page.

To crown it all, the site then offers to subscribe to the newsletter by promising that it usually does not broadcast fake news: "If, today, our" figure of the day "article was an April Fool's Day, on the other hand, this is not the case the rest of the year ”.

  • The problem: a specialized site publishes credible information of which only a link reveals that it is an April Fool's Day.

Google News says Mounir Mahjoubi joins Amazon

Mounir Mahjoubi left his post as Secretary of State for Digital and Government, to devote himself to his candidacy for mayor of Paris. If the news of the day had to be centered on his replacement Cédric O, the Maddyness site decided to create an April Fool's Day lying on the new occupation of Mahjoubi, who would have been recruited by the giant Amazon.

Google News doesn't sort out April Fool's Day from real news. Credit: Raphael Grably

Problem, the Google News algorithm continued to do its job, ignoring that usually credible news sites allowing themselves to disseminate false information on April 1. As a result, Google News displays in one that Mounir Mahjoubi is joining Amazon, information that is sufficient in itself for many readers who will not take the time to click on the link to learn more.

Here again, it should be noted that the Maddyness article does not specify that it is an April Fool's Day until the very end of the article. Fortunately, the tone of the article is a little more conducive to understanding that there is a trick, but the site still went so far as to fake an ad on Facebook.

  • The Problem: Google News' Blind Algorithm Unintentionally Practices Disinformation on April 1

Good students exist

These three examples show why this April Fool's "tradition" has become problematic, especially for news sites. However, that does not prevent laughing thanks to certain good ideas, when it is done well, but some should abstain. First, making April Fools' Day should be reserved for brands, which naturally want to communicate a positive image by making people laugh, and not be used by the press.

Today, we didn't find a bad joke to make, so we preferred to show you this bad pun:

- HONOR Spain (@Honor_FR) April 1, 2019

The next step is to ensure that April Fool's Day is not overly believable and does not interfere with the use of a service or product. We like, for example, the addition of Snake to Google Maps, Honor Spain who decided to make a bad pun instead of a fish, DBrand who decided to market an AirPower mattress skin, even if Apple announced the cancellation of the product, or the switch to the famous Comic Sans MS from the Lawnchair application, which still allows you to easily return to a normal display.

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