Google disables April fools’ joke amid user fury after prank backfires

Google’s April Fools’ Day prank has backfired, leaving the company looking the fool and a number of concerned users fearing for their jobs – or worse.

As 1 April began in Australia, the company announced its latest stunt: “Gmail Mic Drop”, a special version of the send button which appends a gif of a minion (one of the sexless, ageless merchandising icons from the Despicable Me series) dressed as the queen dropping a microphone to the end of your email.

“Everyone will get your message, but that’s the last you’ll ever hear about it,” Google added in a blogpost announcing the feature. “Yes, even if folks try to respond, you won’t see it.”

For most companies, that would be the end of it, but Google has a longstanding tradition of actually building the products they “announce” on April Fools’ Day, even if they only survive for 24 hours.

Google’s gif demoing the Mic Drop

Unfortunately, the way the company decided to implement the Mic Drop feature was by simply placing the button on every user’s compose window, making it easy enough to hit accidentally. Web developer Andy Baio quickly started cataloguing some of the users who had been undone by the change.

One, who posted on the company’s Gmail help forum, wrote: “Thanks to Mic Drop I just lost my job. I am a writer and had a deadline to meet. I sent my articles to my boss and never heard back from her. I inadvertently sent the email using the ‘Mic Drop’ send button. There were corrections that needed to be made on my articles and I never received her replies. My boss took offence 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). I just woke up to a very angry voicemail from her which is how I found out about this ‘hilarious’ prank.”

— Andy Baio (@waxpancake)
April 1, 2016


Similar concerns abounded on the help forums. “April fools jokes are great fun but not when they affect my business correspondence,” wrote one user. Another said “I sent out an important email to 30 recipients and I inadvertently clicked the ‘Mic Drop’ Send. I completely did not mean to, and I realised what had happened after the fact. I tried to resend it without that, but it was too late. Is there any way I can undo my mic drop feature?”

A third wrote “Unfortunately some of my very intelligent friends are senior engineers in Google. I almost picked up the phone and shouted at them because of this stupid creation made me sound so rude to one important customer when I made a mistake to click this stupid button.”

As a result of the complaints, Google announced it had turned off the feature. The company told the Guardian: “Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. 😟 Due to a bug, the MicDrop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page.”

Mic drop isn’t the only April Fools’ Day prank launched by Google. The company, clearly filled with practical jokers, has launched at least five others today, including “Google Cardboard Plastic” (a transparent box that you strap to your face to enable “Actual Reality”), Searchable Socks (which lets you find your socks with the Google app) and Google Maps Disco (which lets you watch Pegman dancing to Funky Town). But none of those appear to have got users fired, yet.

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