Cambridge University researchers are predicting that April Fools’ Day 2010 will be the first time that online pranks outnumber pranks in the so-called real world.
“We’re expecting to see 3,258,987 fake stories on the English-speaking worldwide web this April first,” Dr. Theodore Chiste. This will nearly than double the former record established on April 1, 1930, two months after the Whoopee Cushion was first released.
Dr. Chiste believes the most popular fake stories this year will involve Google, Facebook and/or Justin Bieber.
Who are we kidding?
As Paul Boutin wrote in the New York Times, “On the Internet, every day is April Fools’ Day.” The Onion has become one of the most popular sites in the world by turning fake stories into works of art.
To celebrate the Internet’s favorite holiday here three of our favorite April Fools’ pranks:
1. The great Rickroll of 2008.
YouTube linked every video on its homepage to Rick Astley singing the most popular song of all time “Never Going to Give You Up.” The F-Secure Labs today announced our new product to protect against Rickroll, the F-Secure Rickroll Protector.
2. Sign o’ the times.
In 1980, the BBC reported that Big Ben was going digital. One in a fine tradition of BBC pranks.
3. But seriously, folks.
F-Secure introduces a new Internet security product featuring children’s story character Moomin. The best part? It was a real product released on April 1, 2005 but it was taken as a prank.
Did you have any favorite April Fools’ this year?
Hetta and Jason
When news broke that Facebook was at least temporarily using users physical location to suggest real world connections, a strategy that has been employed by the NSA, the backlash was sharp. It wasn't difficult to imagine scenarios when identities could be inadvertently and uncomfortably revealed through group therapy, 12-step meetings or secretive political movements. The world's most popular social network quickly said it would not continue what it called a small-scale test nor roll the feature on a wider scale in the future. But Facebook is still using your location data for other purposes, Fusion's Kashmir Hill reports: We do know that Facebook is using smartphone location for other things, such as tracking which stores you go to and geotargeting you with ads, but the social network now says it’s not using smartphone location to identify people you’ve been physically proximate to. Hill notes that using location to match users up, thus acting as a tool to reveal the identity of nearby strangers, might violate Facebook's agreement with the Federal Trade Commission . So you should expect that your location -- like everything you do on Facebook -- is being used to turn you into a better product for its advertisers. That's the cost of using a "free" site but you can limit your exposure a bit by turning off location services for Facebook on your phone. Here's very simple instructions for turning off location services on your Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps on your Android of iOS device. Do you mind if Facebook uses your location to suggest new friends? Let us know in the comments. [Image by Lwp Kommunikáció | Flickr]
Little changes can make a difference. For instance, Twitter's decision to switch a star for a heart as its "Favorite" button increased use of the button by as much as 27.82 percent. And it's clear that despite Wall St. demanding that site grow faster and be easier for new users to grasp to have some hope of keeping up with competitors like Facebook and Snapchat, the site is still sweating the small stuff. Here are the four changes to the service announced this week: Replies: When replying to a Tweet, @names will no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group. Media attachments: When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your Tweet. More room for words! Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: We’ll be enabling the Retweet button on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed. Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ”.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly. These tweaks are in line with Twitter's tradition of paying attention to how people use the site and make it easier for them to do what early adopters are already doing. That's how we got hashtags, retweet buttons and @ replies. Now you'll be able to tweet a bit longer messages, something people do now with screenshots of text, and have more public conversations, something people do now by putting a "." before someone's @username so their whole feed sees the conversation not just people who happen to follow you and the user you're conversing with. Cool. These are useful little nudges that will keep people who already love the site engaged -- even though they may have some ugly unforeseen consequences. But will they transform Twitter and spark a new wave of growth? Not likely. What would without alienating the hundreds of millions of loyal users? Tough question and we'd like to know what you think. [polldaddy poll=9429603] Cheers, Jason [Image by dominiccampbell | Flickr]