Around 10:27 am, I received an email from HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes, as I’m sure the many other HootSuite users did too. It was to inform me that while their site has been hugely successful, he realized that, “[b]uilding on top of third party platforms can be challenging, and the team and I want a change.” Interesting. So, I kept reading. Turns out the change they were talking about was releasing a game called Happy Owls, a knock off of the hugely popular Angry Birds. This is about the point where I realized this was a highly unbelievable prank and was part of the ever-expanding April Fool’s Day jokes that online companies now like to play.
While I know these are all in good fun, I have to say that I am pretty disappointed with quality of online pranking this year. Even Google, who in my mind has been the leader in online April Fool’s Day pranks and has done a fairly good job of tricking people in the past, put forth an admittedly well-planned, highly entertaining, yet very unbelievable effort this year. It is my humble opinion that if you’re going to spend the time developing a prank, your goal is to really trick someone. That’s where the fun lies. These pseudo-pranks, which I assume are created to give people a laugh without upsetting what companies must think is a delicate and sheltered user base, just don’t do it for me. If you’re going to prank me, then give it your all. Trick me. Make me feel silly for believing you. I promise I won’t hold it against you. I won’t stay mad and switch to Chrome or Tweetdeck. Rather, I’ll admire your wit and your dedication and will become an even more loyal fan.
HootSuite took their prank a step further and sent a follow up email saying that the original one was sent to me in error and was only supposed to go to “our Board, Investors and Advisors and is highly confidential. Please delete and ignore.” A message that was echoed from the first email. I’m not sure if sending this out was part of the original plan or if they realized that the original email was so terribly unbelievable that they should send this follow up as a weak attempt to sucker at least a few naive people into wondering if it was real after all. Whatever the reason, it just added to the air of failure that surrounded the first sad attempt and further reduced my respect for this year’s online pranking efforts. It is my sincere hope that next year one of the companies I follow will step up and do something amazingly deceitful, something that will make me waste half my day intrigued by a service or opportunity that does not exist. Those are the pranks that April Fool’s Day legends are made of!
Did you encounter an amazing online prank this year, or one that just left you disappointed and wanting more. I’d love to hear about them–especially if they’re totally devious. Let me get pranked vicariously through you!
About Jason Teitelman
I am a the model of a walking contradiction. The exception to the rule upon which we base the definition. A random tangent within a set of natural patterns; staying true while all others scatter. The form found in emptiness, the emptiness in form. The something that from the nothingness was born.