Best April Fool’s Pranks for 2011

April Fool’s’ Day, or All Fools’ Day, as it’s sometimes called, used to be a time when people you know would “mess” with you, or you’d go into work and someone would try to convince you of something that hadn’t happened. We all know the feeling of being April Fooled, and it isn’t always a pleasant one.

Well, in 2011, it’s companies that are getting heavily into the April Fools’ game. After all, they’re able to mess with the minds of thousands or millions of people, right?

Here are a couple of examples from the Internet world:

Hulu Returns to 1996

The Boston Globe reports that TV rerun website Hulu‘s home page has reverted to April 1, 1996, where it features new episodes of “The X-Files” and “Newsradio” and refreshes at 1996 speeds (that last one is particularly funny, somehow!).

Hulu also announces breathlessly that banks could start charging for ATM withdrawals any day now and shows videos from “hot new rock artist” Dave Matthews and other 1996 notables like Radiohead.

While this may mildly befuddle some folks before they realize what day it is, Google has a more in-your-face strategy.

They’ve released a new “Comic Sans for Everyone” Web page, with a button that is supposed to install Comic Sans, a much-ridiculed font, on your Chrome Browser in order to view every Web page in Comic Sans. And they announce on the page that due to Comic Sans having a better click-through rate than other fonts, “We’ll therefore be rolling out Comic Sans as our default font across all Google products on April 4, 2011.” (April Fool!)

Google’s Fake Job Ad

If that wasn’t enough to strike fear in some hearts, a bit of the meanness prevalent on April Fool’s appears in Google’s “fake job” ad for “autocompleters,” a function which is of course automated. Google even worked up a realistic video called Being a Google Autocompleter, which no doubt thousands of people watched. Maybe not the best joke for these recession-weary times?

Branson Buys Planet

In perhaps the coolest joke, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines and space adventurer extraordinaire, announced today that he had bought the planet Pluto ‘for an undisclosed sum” on a Virgin Web page!

A picture shows a triumphant Branson waving a flag in a desert landscape–obviously not Pluto. In an attempt to reinstate Pluto as a planet, the story says, Branson is having a special space vehicle built to bulk up Pluto to its required planetary mass by dragging debris onto the former planet.

It’s really not that unlikely…

Sources:

Boston.com, “April Fool’s Day Pranks Made By Companies”, http://www.boston.com/business/gallery/businesshoaxes/

Virgin.com, “Branson buys Pluto, reinstates as planet”, http://www.virgin.com/travel/news/branson-buys-pluto-reinstates-as-planet

Google, “Comic Sans for Everyone”, http://www.google.com/landing/csfe/