Reporter's Notebook

April Is the Foolest Month: 2016 Edition
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A handful of our favorite April Fool’s hoaxes. Last year’s are here.

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March Madness is old news, guys. It’s April now, and you know what April 1 brings? Madness. Absolute madness. And the worst type of madness, as anyone who as been on or heard of the Internet knows, is #brand madness.

So, of course, we made a bracket about it. We rounded up 16 pranks from 16 #brands and divided them into four categories: media, tech, stuff you can buy, and other, because some pranks are just so special that they defy categorization. Fill it out yourself, if you like! But also know that this is objectively correct and definitive. Enjoy!

(April Fool’s! No one enjoys this.)


  • The New York Times announced it will stop publishing crossword puzzles. “There are plenty of perfectly good crosswords out there,” wrote the Times’ “puzzle constructor,” Deb Amlen. “They’re not the New York Times Crossword, but like I said, you’ll adjust.” This is probably the daddest joke in the bracket.

  • National Geographic tweeted that it would “immediately stop publishing nude animal pictures,” an announcement that was accompanied by an embarrassed-looking hedgehog thing (as Caroline noted earlier). Shows that Playboy can still be an industry leader.

  • GQ replaced every image on its homepage with a photo of Jason Alexander, perhaps better known as George Costanza from Seinfeld. We’ll give him this: the man knows how to wear a raincoat.

  • Writers for sister sites Deadspin, which focuses on sports, and Jezebel, which is geared toward women, switched roles for the day. Jezebel’s writers did a better job, occupying their colleagues’ homepage with headlines like “Man Achieves Adequacy” and “I’m Pretty Sure Most Straight Men Would Have Sex with The Rock.”


  • Samsung announced a new line of “intelligent trousers,” which ostensibly monitor their wearer’s vital signs and send them a smartphone notification to keep their pants on if they get too excited. Coming from a company that recently released a 5,000 dollar refrigerator with a 21.5’’ touchscreen crammed into it, we weren’t at first sure if this was a joke.

  • Google showed off its latest virtual-reality headset, the see-through Cardboard Plastic. “What’s realer than real?” the voiceover deadpans in an announcement video. “Probably nothing. Or maybe something. I doubt it, though.” Points for self-parody.

  • Google tried a little too hard with a cutesy addition to Gmail it called MicDrop, which added a new button to the email screen. When clicked, it appended a mic-dropping gif of a minion (from the Despicable Me movies) to outgoing messages and muted the responses. The prank went over very, very poorly, and Google pulled the feature last night.

  • In a better, happier world, Zoosk’s dating site that matches users based on their burrito preferences—delightfully named Burrit-OH!—would be real. And it would be a smash hit, and it would save all kinds of bickering on the Chipotle line, and the people would rejoice. Alas, it’s not actually happening. To all you tofu-bean aficionados tryna make it with a carnitas lover: Godspeed, you crazy kids.


A quick skim of our favorite satellite and space Instagram accounts revealed some out-of-the-ordinary sights:

From Daily Overview’s caption:

We think we’ve spotted something unusual on the surface of Loch Ness in Scotland. The lake extends for approximately 23 miles (37 km) and is well-known as the possible home to “Nessie” - reportedly a massive sea monster resembling a plesiosaur. While water visibility is exceptionally low at the lake because of high peat content in the surrounding soil, our Overview perspective does not suffer from the same limitations and picked up this figure in imagery from 2014.

Hmmm. And over in Nevada, are those what I think they are?

Groom Lake, Nevada, more commonly known as Area 51

A photo posted by Planet Labs (@planetlabs) on

April Fools jokes or signs of something darker? You be the judge.

(See all Orbital Views here)

We briefly had another track posted today (available tomorrow at this link), but then Caroline flagged an April Fool’s mixtape that a reader tweeted at her:

The first track is actually pretty damn good. (And nope, this content isn’t sponsored.)

(Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)

National Geographic offers an early contender for most awww-worthy prank for the day:

Oops. If posting nude animal pictures is a sin, I’m guilty.

On their website, National Geographic fesses up to the prank, offering a slideshow of “real, quirky snapshots of well-dressed cats and dogs, created by photographer Harry Whittier Frees in the early 1900s.” Behold, tiny kittens in clothes:

National Geographic / Library of Congress

Well played.

If this tool didn’t exist, Slavoj Žižek would have had to invent it.

Clone Zone was built by a pair of artists and opened to the public last April, after the artists’ TechCrunch spoof site won them some Facebook love. The tool aims to democratize the art of spoof-making, letting users create fake spins on popular sites with as little time and effort as it takes to craft a tweet.

Because it was out of beta weeks after April Fool’s Day 2015, Clone Zone wasn’t ready for the public to test its true Internet-trolling potential last year. This year it is live, but is the Internet ready?