By Alex Fitzpatrick
April 1, 2016

Dear #brands,

I get it. You love April Fool’s Day. All you have to do is whip up some silly idea, blast it out on Facebook and Twitter, and let the social engagement roll in. Has there ever been easier PR?

To be fair, not all of your pranks have been terrible. Google, your toilet-based Internet service belongs in the Internet Hall of Fame, if that exists. But the shenanigans are doing more harm than good, and it’s time to let them die.

Case in point: This year, Google celebrated the time-honored tradition by changing Gmail’s “Send and Archive” button to instead add a “mic drop” GIF to messages. That seems cute and fun and good, right? But a decent chunk of Gmail users hit the button by mistake, leading to some pretty hilarious/awkward/God-awful exchanges where a dismissive animated response was not, you know, appropriate. Google has since decided to reverse the joke. Maybe pranking a billion people at a time wasn’t such a good idea after all.

But you know what’s worse? All the fake press releases, the kind that make it miserable to be online every April 1. Misinformation spreads like a virus across social media, and people spend the day getting outraged by fake news—or worse, getting outraged that other people are outraged by fake news. Does anyone enjoy that?

At the end of the day, the Internet really doesn’t need any help being fooled. Just this week, rumor-busting site Snopes felt it necessary to debunk a satirical story from the Onion claiming that Cuban citizens tried to literally grab a ride out of the country aboard Air Force One. When readers are that gullible, why do anything to confuse people about your company?

Brands, you’ve had your fun. But it’s time to leave April Fool’s Day where it belongs: Fifth grade classrooms, daytime television and France, where they do that weird fish thing. Can anybody explain what that’s all about?

Thanks,

Alex.

Write to Alex Fitzpatrick at alex.fitzpatrick@time.com.

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