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April Fool’s Day Is Canceled Online. But Not For Families

Google won't do any pranks this year. Thailand says they'll jail offenders. But that doesn't mean you can't prank your kids.

Today, after a March that felt like it lasted a million years, is officially April 1st — otherwise known as April Fool’s Day. The day, which is usually marked by elaborate pranks, brands pulling involved, overwrought jokes and changing their mission, and other whodunnit-style heists by major brands like Google and Jack in the Box, has also been, according to the internet, officially canceled. But it doesn’t have to be for families, especially if they’re lighthearted and positive pranks in the home — and nowhere else.

Google, which normally releases a handful of lighthearted April Fool’s gags every year and spends 40 percent of its yearly budget on April Fool’s pranks, announced that they wouldn’t partake this year in order to help stem disinformation from the Coronavirus, which has been a major problem for the world’s largest search engine. The tradition, now 20 years long, having started in 2000, will be canceled for the first time. 

Microsoft’s head of marketing already announced that the company wouldn’t entertain April Fool’s pranks today and said that there “is more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day.” India, Thailand and Germany said that anyone who spread coronavirus-related misinformation today would be punished, and Thailand, in particular, threatened jail time for the offense. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said that perpetrators could face three years in jail or more than $99,000 in fines. The Verge reported that they’d be making a list of every brand that pulled an April Fool’s prank and publishing it to shame those who engaged in poorly-thought through jokes on what once was the prankiest day of the year.

But just because brands and online search engines are rightfully pulling back on jokes in a time when misinformation is rampant and could cost lives, doesn’t mean that parents and their kids should sit in silence, dumbly serious, all day long. So, you might want to pull back on pranks on your friends, extended family, and any other online jokes that go out to your social media feed. But that doesn’t mean that pranks are over at home. So prank your kids, Prank your wife. And most of all, don’t make it about the coronavirus pandemic. 

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