Every day is April Fools' Day on the Internet

Google Glasses? Facebook phones? Yahoo buys Summly? Sometimes it's hard to tell the pranks from the pretenders

As the old saying goes, there is no fool like an April Fool. But as with many things on the InterWebs, the competition for creating truly effective April Fools' Day pranks has grown so fierce as to be nearly impossible.

Sure, Google throws millions of dollars behind creating professional-looking videos of deadpan engineers extolling the virtues of Gmail Blue, Google Treasure Maps, Google Nose, and the End of YouTube. But now we're all in on the joke. Nobody is going to fall for stories about Twitter deciding to charge for vowels or the Play-Doh 3D Printer.

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Organizations that hope to lead and innovate in the vital field of AFD pranks have had to resort to some pretty devious tactics, including releasing their "news" days and weeks before the official calendar observance of Foolishness or scheduling events shortly afterward. You can be forgiven if you were duped by any of the following stories.

Facebook Phones. They've been trotting out this chestnut since 2009, and yet people -- by "people," I mostly mean tech bloggers -- continue to fall for it. In a few days, Facebook is holding a big Android event that has people speculating this is the long-anticipated debut of the Facebook phone. Also scheduled to be in attendance: the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and Golem.

Google Glasses. I have to admit -- this is one of Google's more elaborate and well-planned pranks. They even had me going for a while. But when Sergey Brin took to the TED stage last month to declare that smartphones were effeminate and that real men wore cyber spectacles that made them look like Poindexter's nerdy little brother, I began to smell a rat. This past week's announcements of the celebrities named as beta testers sealed it for me. Neil Patrick Harris, Soulja Boy, and Newt Gringrich? What kind of fool do you take me for?

Microsoft Rubbers. Last week Bill Gates made news when he announced his intention to fund the creation of a better condom. Talk about your Trojan horses. As one Twitter wag put it, what man would ever buy a condom associated with the words "micro" and "soft"?

Yahoo's Appquisitions. This one smelled funky from the get-go. You really expect us to believe that Marissa "get your arse into the office you pajama-wearing wimp" Mayer would spend $30 million to acquire Summly, an app written by a 17-year-old that summarizes news for mobile phones? Does she expect teen geek prodigy Nick D'Aloisio to commute into the office from his home in London each day? Puh-lease.

Internet Meltdown. Spamhaus gets a little DDoS attack from some Russian slime merchants and suddenly the Internet is in peril? Suuure. Only the noobs at CNN fell for that one.

Cesar Chavez Doodle. Yesterday's tribute to the alleged labor leader is one of the few Google pranks to fall flat. Everybody knows that Hugo Chavez never had an older brother.

All I can say to these companies is, nice try guys. Better luck next year.

What pranks did you fall for? Confess your foolishness below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Every day is April Fools' Day on the Internet," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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