Apr 1, 2020

Coye Cheshire: Google Skips April Fools’ Day amid Coronavirus


Amid coronavirus, April Fools’ Day jokes risk being tone deaf

By Richard Nieva

Every year on April 1, companies big and small flood the internet with elaborate pranks, absurd announcements and bogus blog posts...

Regardless of whether the stunts elicit a chuckle or an eye roll, they're usually harmless. This year, however, April Fools’ Day is particularly fraught.

With the coronavirus pandemic, the world is facing a crisis unprecedented in our lifetime. The public, much of it sheltering in place, is going stir-crazy in front of computer screens. And a deluge of misinformation is swirling online about COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus....

In this environment, the whole idea of April Fools’ could be straight-up tone deaf. Though some people might appreciate a good joke, others might want big companies to just sit this one out, especially as so much anxiety and uncertainty hangs in the air. “Right now it might be hard for companies and individuals to read the room virtually,” said Coye Cheshire, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information, who studies the internet’s effects on social psychology. “The potential to misread where the public is on this is really high.”


Coye Chesire is a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information. As a social psychologist, his research focuses on social exchange, cooperation, trust and interpersonal relationships in computer-mediated environments.

Last updated:

June 12, 2020