The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” — these immortal words of Irish philosopher Edmund Burke have been the utmost truth about our society since he first uttered them about 200 years ago.
The recent prevalence of fake news on social media being spread not just by regular folks but also by men and women in power is the crude reality of today. Fake news has claimed people’s state of happiness, their peace of mind and in some cases, even their lives.
So the unusual lack of pranks and funny ‘fake news’ on the designated day of April Fools’ should come as no surprise. It is evident from the decision taken by big tech companies like Microsoft, which barred its employees from participating in April Fools’ Day celebration. Even websites like TechCrunch no longer want to contribute to the ever-growing pile of fake news, even if it’s in the spirit of April Fools’ Day.
It is no longer just ‘April Fools”
In our society, a ton of fake news is spread every day and there are several types of them. For example, some time ago, false news on the account of NASA became viral. A YouTuber by the name of Steven Crowder claimed on his website that burning fossil fuels actually cools the planet, according to NASA.
The news actually turned out to be even more dangerous than the half truth. Another Youtuber Potholer54 debunked this claim by explaining that the cooling was only an immediate effect of burning fossil fuel, which is followed by intense warming.
In this case, there was a fact-checker at the other end, but it came a bit too late as the video already had millions of views.
It’s needless to say that this type of news isn’t just circulated on a particular day but spread throughout the year. Thus a designated event like April Fools’ which is supposed to bring us joy and laughter through harmless lies actually meets our exhausted minds which is tired of fake news.
Not everyone understands the intent behind every joke and the internet is a place where everyone can easily come across all such jokes. And sometimes it takes only one person to interpret the joke in the wrong way, leading to viral fake news.
It hurts content creators
The current repulsion against fake news on social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp and Google is very high. Any new content creator trying to make even a bland April fools joke would be crucified as the propagator of fake news.
Combine this with the usual social media backlash over every other false news and the whole exercise of pulling a prank becomes futile.
PewDiePie recently promoted his ‘Subscribe to Pewdiepie’ joke during his war with T-series, in order to gain more subscribers. That same joke was interpreted incorrectly by far-right groups and ended up being used in the Christchurch terrorist attack.
Just the horror of being associated with genocide is excruciating for anyone, let alone a YouTube creator. Pewdiepie suffered a massive public backlash for the attack, mostly due to ‘guilty by association’ even if the association is just of a joke.
What about those who can take a joke?
There are some people who want to scream at the top of their lungs to showcase their ability to take a joke. Such people are obviously disappointed by the lack of public participation on April Fools’ Day.
But such people are taking a stand against the toxic culture of fake news.
A good example of avoiding pranks among tolerant is the r/games community. The subreddit is closed for the April Fools’ Day.
According to the modders, the community, although inclusive, has become a ‘battleground’ of conflicting ideas. The intended genre of gaming is and has always been a place for everyone, especially minorities.
People who couldn’t find a social group to interact with in real life discovered hundreds of friendly folks online while gaming.
Thus on April Fools’ Day, the subreddit decided to take a step back to reflect on why certain people, who are indeed gamers, are feeling excluded like an outcast.
Practice what we preach
The inner you must be asking what we, Fossbytes, are doing on our part to reflect on our responsibility as a news outlet. Well, in addition to spending our resources on busting fake news, we are not pulling any April Fools’ pranks on our fans this year.
We know that the news in the tech domain is usually harmless and doesn’t actually transpire hate. But we understand how passionate our readers are regarding tech and we wish to take a step back and understand that our readers are passionate and they deserve nothing but the utmost truth from us.
In the past, we have also pulled some pranks over our audience. One of our famous April Fools’ Day jokes was a piece of prank news that Microsoft shut down Ubuntu Linux after buying it. Another one of our pranks was that Mark Zuckerberg has resigned from Facebook. Both of our stories became massively viral and were shared on thousands of websites.
We pulled these pranks in 2016, 17 and 2018, but since then times have changed and we have changed with it. Probably for the better:)