It’s April Fool’s Day, and you’ve just been fed toothpaste Oreos, walked into three plastic wrapped doors, and unknowingly set off a couple of cleverly concealed airhorns. As the day progresses, these practical jokes probably won’t stop. Maybe at some point, you shut yourself in your room and reach for a laptop or a phone to escape from the pranks, when you find that you can’t. Your siblings are not the only ones who like to joke around; Google does too.
Every year, Google has managed to bring April Fool’s online. In celebration of the beloved and hated holiday, pranks will litter the internet, popping up everywhere from YouTube to Google Maps.
The tradition began in 2000, with a series of comedic error messages that would display when users would try to use Google search. Some may have struck a bit of panic in people’s hearts, such as “Error 005: Searching on this topic is prohibited under international law.” Some, like “Error: Insufficient conviction. Please clap hands 3 times, while chanting ‘I believe’ and try again,” had the potential to produce great entertainment for any other people in the room, if the internet user had the good humor to follow its directions. Still others, like “Error 666: Multiple transmitters detected. Silence voices in your head and try again,” may have resulted in either a dry laugh or an irritated punch to the computer screen.
In 2006, Google launched an online dating website.
“Dating is a search problem. Solve it with Google Romance,” it announced. Users would need to fill out a couple of lengthy forms describing themselves and their perfect partner, and then the “Soulmate Search” would find said partner for them. Google would then send the users on a “Contextual Date.” In short, Google Romance was as cringeworthy as it sounds. No, seriously— read its FAQ page.
Two years later, YouTube joined the April Fool’s game. When users clicked on any featured video, they would be linked not to the video they actually wanted to watch, but a video of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It is debatable whether that was a disappointment or a pleasant surprise.
Unless you lived under a rock for the latter half of 2016, you will remember Pokémon Go. The phone game took the world by a storm last year, but interestingly, the game dates back to 2014, when Google partnered with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company to create a virtual reality to allow users to capture Pokémon while using Google Maps. So if you hated the Pokémon Go trend, because you either dislike Pokémon or are one of those people that fell into a ditch while playing it, you can blame Google.
This year, Google will no doubt unleash some more April Fool’s spirit. It has some pretty good pranks to live up to. Be prepared.