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April Fool’s Day 2019: How to avoid falling victim to the biggest pranks and jokes

From Uber pogo sticks to fines for over-running funerals, here are this year’s best jokes

Tim Wyatt
Monday 01 April 2019 14:15 BST
What is April Fool's Day and what are its origins?

Newspapers and companies have been spinning tall tales all morning in an effort to dupe the public as part of this year’s April Fool’s Day.

The annual tradition sees firms announce bizarre and nonsensical products and rebrands, while many media outlets also publish invented stories.

Among this year’s crop of pranks include Uber unveiling a pogo stick option in its app, a crematorium threatening to fine funerals which overrun and Google reintroducing the classic mobile game Snake.

Here we’ve rounded up some of the best jokes and pranks.

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Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of this year's April Fools' Day. 

As usual, companies and media outlets around the world have attempted to dupe the public with a new swathe of pranks and fake announcements. 

Follow along to find out what may not be all it seems among the news this morning. 

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:02

Tech giant Google was one of the first out of the blocks today.

Its Google Maps team have sneakily added the classic mobile game Snake to their app to mark 1 April. 

To play, simply open the app on your iOS or Android device, tap the menu icon, and then select Play Snake.

Users can choose to play in either Cairo, Sao Paolo, London, Sydney, San Francisco, Tokyo or the entire world.

In a twist of the wildly popular game made famous by being included on early Nokia mobile phones, in the Google Maps version you play as a train trying to collect passengers.

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:14

Uber in Australia has launched a new mode of transport called UberGO - pogo sticks. 

Dubbing them a crucial tool to get people out of cars and tackle congestion in cities, the taxi firm said the bouncing toys could help cut air pollution. 

Oddly enough, there is a rival app to Uber actually called Pogo, which promises to offer parents an easy way to find people to carpool their children to school.

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:22

But not everything is all fun and games. A crematorium in York has got into hot water after it put up a joke notice warning ministers, celebrants and funeral directors they would be fined £200 if they over-ran, even by a few seconds.

The notice included a clipping from the Grimsby Telegraph, which reported on a Grimsby crematorium which had indeed introduced such a policy and fined a grieving family whose funeral was 14 seconds longer than agreed.

But the City of York Council said the April Fools prank was in "incredibly poor taste" and launched an internal review to find out how the joke poster had come to be put up.

"The sign was removed as soon as we became aware of it and we'd like to sincerely apologise for any distress this may have caused," Pauline Stuchfield, assistant director of customer and digital services for the council, said.

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:34

If you have ever wondered why we even celebrate April Fools' Day, this explainer is worth a quick read.

It is difficult to pin down the actual truth, but it is thought it may date back to 1564 when France formally changed its calendar to the modern Gregorian version, and thereby moved the celebration of the New Year from the last week of March to 1 January. 

Other stories point back even further, to ancient Rome where the Hilaria festival celebrated the resurrection of a demigod with the donning of disguises.

In the medieval Feast of Fools a Lord of Misrule was elected to parody Christian rituals, leading to centuries of church censorship.

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:36

Newspapers have also being getting in on the fun by printing their own deliberate fake news stories.

The Sun reported this morning the Royal Mint had supposedly unveiled a new range of emoji-themes 50p coins, including one which featured the poo emoji.

A "coin expert" called Penny Silver allegedly told the paper: "What with Brexit, Royal Mint must have decided everyone could use some light relief.

“Emojis are a great way to communicate and express ourselves, so it makes sense to mark this with a coin collection.”

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:39

Tinder's April Fools gag saw it pretend to introduce "height verification", to stop users pretending to be taller than they actually are.

In a blog post on the dating app's website, the company wrote: "It’s come to our attention that most of you 5’10ers out there are actually 5’6. The charade must stop. This type of dishonestly doesn’t just hurt your matches — it hurts us, too"

To combat this kind of fakery, users could verify their height with Tinder by uploading a screenshot of them standing next to a "commercial building". 

Those who Tinder can confirm are as tall as they say they are would be given a special Height Verification Badge on their profiles. 

"Only 14.5% of the US male population is actually 6’ and beyond. So, we’re expecting to see a huge decline in the 80% of males on Tinder who are claiming that they are well over 6 feet," the blog concluded.

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:43

Famous British brand Colman's Mustard has announced its latest product: Mustard Custard. 

This unique condiment is ideal for both sweet and savoury food, the firm said, making it perfect for accompanying both the main and dessert of a Sunday roast dinner. 

"Designed to pack a punch, Colman’s Mustard Custard tastes equally delicious with roast beef and parsnips or chicken and carrots as it does with an apple crumble or a sticky toffee pudding," the firm said in its press release unveiling the new item.

“Fifteen years in the making, Colman’s Mustard Custard is our most innovative development to date," said Daisy O'Farllop, Colman's head of product development, said.

“In a world where less is more, we recognised that consumers are crying out for a streamlined condiment stash and we’re confident this one will be loved by the whole family.”

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:47

Sport is not immune to April Fools' either. Apparently, next season's Carabao Cup will make it even easier for goalscorers to mark their exploits by installing smartphones on every corner flag. 

The first-in-the-world plan would make it possible for players to take a picture of themselves while still on the pitch and share it immediately on social media. 

The EFL said its innovation followed in the wake of maverick Italian striker Mario Balotelli who famously went live on his Instagram account just seconds after scoring for Marseille in Ligue 1. 

A spokesman for the EFL said: "We have no doubt the new technology will set apart the Carabao Cup from many other cup competitions across the world.”

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 08:56

Although their Silicon Valley rivals Google are famous for April Fools' pranks, tech giant Microsoft has banned its staff from taking part in any hoaxes this year

In a memo reported by tech website The Verge, Microsoft's marketing chief Chris Capossela warned his employees they could damage the firm's brand if they accidentally spark a backlash.

"I appreciate that people may have devoted time and resources to these activities, but I believe we have more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day," he wrote.


"Sometimes the outcomes are amusing and sometimes they’re not. Either way, data tells us these stunts have limited positive impact and can actually result in unwanted news cycles."

With the tech industry struggling in recent months under the weight of negative headlines around fake news, abuse on social media, screen time concerns, and privacy issues, it seems Microsoft has decided to try and keep its head down this 1 April. 

tim.wyatt1 April 2019 09:10

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