Photo (cc) by JeepersMedia
April Fools’ Day pranks are intended to be fun and elicit a few laughs.
But Google’s April Fools’ Day prank this year backfired, leaving the Internet giant red-faced and looking the fool.
The ill-received joke – called Gmail Mic Drop – allowed users to select an orange “Send + Mic Drop” button when sending an email. The orange button replaced Gmail’s often-used “send and archive” button, according to Ars Technica.
Pressing the “Send + Mic Drop” button automatically appended the user’s email to include an animation of a Minion (the little yellow guys from the “Despicable Me” movies) dropping a mic. It also effectively muted the email conversation and archived it.
“Gmail is making it easier to have the last word on any email with Mic Drop,” Google wrote in a Gmail blog post. “Everyone will get your message, but that’s the last you’ll ever hear about it. Yes, even if folks try to respond, you won’t see it.” (You can see the introduction of Google’s Fools feature, the animated GIF of the Minion, and the subsequent apologies from Google on this blog post link.)
Many users who inadvertently selected the mic drop button described Google’s gag as anything but funny, especially when the mic-dropping Minion was sent on emails to bosses or clients. Allan Pashby voiced his frustration on the Gmail Help Forum:
“Thanks to Mic Drop I just lost my job. I am a writer and had a deadline to meet. I sent my articles to my boss and never heard back from her. I inadvertently sent the email using the ‘Mic Drop’ send button. There were corrections that needed to be made on my articles and I never received her replies. My boss took offense to the Mic Drop animation and assumed that I didn’t reply to her because I thought her input was petty (hence the Mic Drop). I just woke up to a very angry voicemail from her which is how I found out about this ‘hilarious’ prank.”
“April Fools’ jokes are great fun but not when they affect my business correspondence and increase the chance of something serious occurring like not seeing my clients’ responses to important emails,” complained another user.
Amid user backlash, the Internet giant pulled the Minion-themed prank and apologized to users:
Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page.
In the past, Google’s April Fools’ antics have been more benign — inserting fun jokes or hoaxes into its products, like last year’s Pac-Maps – which allowed users to play Pac-Man along real streets in Google Maps. In 2010, it announced it was changing its name from “Google” to “Topeka” as an April 1 gag.
What do you think of Google’s ill-fated mic drop email gag? Have you fallen for a prank on April Fools’ Day? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.