Google’s April Fool’s prank has backfired spectacularly

Well, that escalated quickly.
Well, that escalated quickly.
Image: Reuters
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Google has been left red-faced after it was forced to disable an April Fool’s prank it set up in Gmail, amid a deluge of complaints from users.

The ill-fated prank was called Gmail Mic Drop. All Gmail users got a new ‘send’ button that included a ‘mic drop’ icon. A message sent with that button would automatically append an animated gif of a minion, the yellow creatures from ‘Despicable Me’ and countless merchandising tie-ins, dropping a mic and turning its back on the recipients. Additionally, the sender would no longer see replies in that email thread (senders would still see replies by filtering their messages in a different way).

“Today, Gmail is making it easier to have the last word on any email with Mic Drop,” Google’s cheeky blog post announcing the prank explained.

How Gmail’s Mic Drop worked
Image: Google

Then the complaints began. “I just accidentally hit it when replying to a very important email. I need to see the response. Does this feature actually prevent replies?” a user named RemoveMicDrop asked in the Gmail Help Forum in the early hours of Apr. 1.

More followed. A user named friskygeek implored Google:

Please, for the love of god, stop it with these stupid and unfunny April Fool’s pranks.
Or at least, please consider an ‘Opt me out of your stupid and non-funny April Fool’s pranks forever’ option.

Users complained they were missing replies to important business correspondence. One user said he likely lost a job he’d been interviewing for for three months.

That was also the case for “Allan Pashby,” a writer who said he had inadvertently offended his boss by sending urgently needed articles with the Mic Drop feature. He wrote:

My boss took offense to the Mic Drop animation and assumed that I didn’t reply to her because I thought her input was petty (hence the Mic Drop).

Allan Pashby reported that he was awoke to a “very angry” voicemail left by his boss. “Which is how I found out about this ‘hilarious’ prank,” he posted in the Gmail Help Forum.

Andy Baio, a well-known technologist, has been cataloguing outraged responses to Mic Drop on Twitter. He also confirmed that Mic Drop would be in effect even if a user inadvertently clicked it once, and then finally clicked the normal ’send’ button to deliver a message.

A Google spokesperson told Quartz that ”due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off.”

The feature was disabled at around 8:40am GMT. It’s unclear when it went into effect. It could have been in effect for most of Apr. 1 in Australia and New Zealand, for example. We’ve asked Google to clarify this, but haven’t heard back yet.

Google takes its April Fool’s pranks seriously. They even have their own Wikipedia page. It has a number of other hoaxes and pranks that are still live for this year including ‘Google Cardboard Plastic‘ and a be-discoed avatar for Google Maps.