April fool's gags and when they go awry

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Tomfoolery abounds on April Fool’s Day, and this year was no exception.

Yesterday, folks surfing the web were prime targets for pranksters. Google had several April Fool’s jokes sprinkled throughout its pristine white pages. The popular website proudly proclaimed the launch of Virgle, a joint venture between Google and Virgin to construct the first permanent human colony on Mars. Surfers could even sign up to be chosen for the colony "" because there is nothing creepy about that.

Other new initiatives on the website included a “custom time” option for Gmail that allows email to arrive in the past and a search feature for Australian googlers that works a day into the future.

YouTube’s prank was simultaneously enjoyable and cringe-worthy. Every video link on the website’s main page redirected to a clip of ’80s pop singer Rick Astley crooning “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Dubbed “rickrolling,” the act of sending people to this breathtaking ballad has been growing trendy. Who doesn’t want to be serenaded by a prepubescent love machine?

One music news and reviews website, Strangeglue, reported an intriguing story today about a new anti-piracy scheme from the British government.

The article declared a government think-tank in league with scientists intended to use mental conditioning to counteract human urges towards illegal downloading. A tiny microchip, the article said, would be implanted in one’s cerebral cortex. Yikes.

Radio stations had their share of fun yesterday, too. But for the Rock FM, a New Zealand station out of Auckland, one prank went awry.

The station began promoting a phony Foo Fighters concert "" an intimate acoustic set, no less "" the day before April Fools.

The plan was to play a Foo Fighters album when the duped crowd showed up the next morning. However, when the Rock caught word that thousands were intending on arriving for the concert, it pulled the plug on its prank.

By 5 p.m. on Monday, the station had confessed the concert was a gag and apologized to the public.

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