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Every year, toward the end of March, it starts happening again to technology reporters around the world. The news releases, sent via email, suck you in with some unbelievable piece of news — until you look at the embargo date and realize that it is, in fact, unbelievable.

Excuse me while I play the role of curmudgeon while everyone else is having fun today, but this is easily my least favorite day of the year. It has become an implicit understanding around the office: Don’t pitch me on any April Fool’s stories, especially not any in which we would be complicit in fooling anyone.

There are three fundamental problems with the way April Fool’s Day has evolved in the tech industry.

1) There’s already enough fake news floating around on a daily basis, attempting to trick us into believing things that aren’t real. Do we really need a day to celebrate this phenomenon?

2) There’s already enough real news that’s so crazy it’s unbelievable. (Exhibit A: Facebook is buying Oculus. Yes, really.) April Fool’s Day has been rendered unnecessary by real life.

3) A lot of these fake news stories aren’t even funny. Yes, there are some exceptions out there, but if you’re going to the trouble of doing one of these April Fool’s “jokes,” please bring your sense of humor.

It turns out I’m not the only one who isn’t a huge fan of April 1 in tech.

Go ahead, have your fun today, and tear me apart in the comments for being an old fart.

Then again, how do you know this commentary itself isn’t an April Fool’s joke? Exactly.

Also seeApril Fools Day roundup: SmartClippy, Medium Data and other silly tech pranks

 

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Comments

  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

    A couple of weeks ago I posted a Facebook status update that I would be deleting my profile on April 1. You could almost hear, in a Star Trek “that does not compute” fashion, the heads explode. Today is the day I ignore the parts of social media that I don’t already ignore.

    • Slaggggg

      It looks like your profile is still on Facebook.

      • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

        The day is young.

        • GuyWithAName

          Did you do it?

  • Guest

    It is pretty bad. April 1 has become a way for otherwise unremarkable Internet companies to put out supposedly funny press releases that gullible, content-starved tech “journalists” at sites like GeekWire regurgitate in an attempt to be funny. As Ben Huh would say, “funny FAIL!”
    You put it brilliantly: the technology world is unintentionally funny for most of the year. Trying to force the funny is a recipe for disaster.

  • Roger Tyson

    “When April Fool’s Turns Tragic”

    Sure, it’s all fun and games…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9xWdeWtHag

    …until somebody REALLY gets hurt!

    [Note: The above is actually a 1 minute COMEDY video!]

  • Carl Setzer

    A corollary phenomena is this drive, especially in social media PR circles, to create “something” on April 1st. I guess the fear is that not taking part in some kind of prank lessens the brand.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    I’m with you. It’s just gotten old.

    I found myself today feeling bad for anyone that has genuine, incredible news to break as no one will believe it.

  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

    My favorite fake news release came out in 1995 from the Coriolis Group. It was for an Author Collar to keep writers on deadline. Of course, it came out in August, which is why it was funny and why I covered it. It was unexpected. And it was a perfect, barely over-the-top parody of new product news releases at the time.

    Both of those last items (unexpected and funny) seem lost in almost all of today’s pitches.

    To quote, “The Author Collar is designed to be worn around the neck of an author and connects to a personal computer using a standard SCSI port. With custom software developed by the Coriolis Group, the Author Collar can be connected to the Internet using a standard SLIP or PPP connection. Once connected, a product manager/thesis advisor can monitor the productivity of an author. If the author gets behind on an important project, the manager/advisor can send an email message and ‘zap’ the author a low-voltage electronic shock to keep him or her on schedule. This is the first time a technology like this has been developed to be used over the Internet.” (More: http://web.mit.edu/hershey/www/humor/random/random65.html )

  • SimoneNonvelodico

    I agree, mostly when people doesn’t have the decency to come up with a story that’s ridiculous enough to be blatantly a joke. I know that no matter how stupid the news, someone’s always going to believe it, but don’t make a perfectly credible announcement and then go all “JK! You fell for it!” as if you did something that’s incredibly smart.
    Case in point: anime streaming website announcing that they got the licensing rights to the upcoming Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure anime, wildly popular but known to present some licensing difficulties. Customers mostly got angry at it, as it felt more like the company was mocking their expectations at what they could do rather than actually being funny. It still hasn’t been disclosed whether it is a joke or not, and other websites have begun spreading the news. At this point it can only result in a loss of credibility for the company.
    Another case, even worse: an article I read yesterday where a GMO advocate declared that GMO’s had gone “too far” as scientists cloned square pigs (complete with photoshopped picture) that could be stocked more easily in farms. Very funny… until you realize that the fake news are going to spread throughout the “alternative information” networks and will still come back, believed true, years from now, in the form of yet another misguided argument from anti-GMO campaigners. Good job indeed.

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