April Fools’ Day is the worst.
Mercifully, Microsoft understands that, and has banned corporate pranks on April 1.
In an internal memo, published by The Verge, Microsoft Marketing Chief Chris Capossela warned employees not to participate in annoying hoaxes next week.
“It’s that time of the year when tech companies try to show their creativity with April Fools’ Day stunts,” he wrote. “Sometimes the outcomes are amusing and sometimes they’re not.
“Either way,” Capossela continued, “data tells us these stunts have limited positive impact and can actually result in unwanted news cycles.”
Popular since the 19th century, the anxiety-inducing day is commemorated by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes—not ideal in the age of fake news.
“Considering the headwinds the tech industry is facing today, I’m asking all teams at Microsoft to not do any public-facing April Fools’ Day stunts,” the marketing manager said. “I appreciate that people may have devoted time and resources to these activities, but I believe we have more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day.”
(Capossela’s backhanded remark reminds me of the first post-9/11 Saturday Night Live episode, when, surrounded by New York City firefighters and police officers, producer Lorne Michaels asks then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “Can we be funny?” and Giuliani replies, “Why start now?”)
Google was forced to apologize in 2016 for its controversial Gmail “mic drop” April Fools’ joke, which automatically added a Minions GIF to emails and then muted the thread.
The time for fun and games is over, though. And the tech world is better for it.
“Please forward to your teams and internal partners,” Capossela wrote in closing, “to ensure people are aware of the ask to stand down on external April Fools’ Day activities.”
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