ON April Fool’s Day every year, Google would stage some elaborate stunt but this year it has told its employees it would “take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It may be the global day for pranks but with the world under assault from the deadly coronavirus pandemic many governments on Wednesday were warning against virus-themed April Fool’s jokes – some even threatening jail!
Few are in the mood as the global death toll mounts and billions remain under some form of lockdown. The deadly outbreak has already been accompanied by a deluge of online misinformation, making it harder for governments to keep their citizens safe.
Taiwan, which has been held up as a model for how to tackle an outbreak, warned people who spread false rumours that they faced up to three years in jail and a TW$3 million fine (€90,307).
“On April Fool’s Day we can exercise our sense of humour if we have to but we can’t make jokes on the pandemic to avoid breaking the law,” President Tsai Ing-wen posted on Facebook alongside a photo of one of her cats.
“I wish everybody not only a humorous but also healthy and safe April Fool’s Day.”
“Zongchai asks you not to make any pranks on the outbreak. Please be considerate to the frontline workers on epidemic prevention,” one post on the ministry’s Facebook page said on Wednesday next to a photo of the popular shiba inu.
Thailand was taking a similarly hard-line, threatening up to five years in jail!
“It’s against the law to fake having Covid-19 this April Fool’s Day,” the government said on Twitter.
“There may be people who do not have good intentions… who may use April 1 or April Fool’s Day and assume they will not face legal action,” Krissana Pattanacharoen, deputy national police spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday.
But hey it’s important to keep our sense of humour in these testing times, isn’t it? I’ve included below prank advertising from happier times in 2019, enjoy!