Hey Google, grow up -- enough with the April Fools pranks already

Email is a means of communication. Sure, it can be used for personal means; having fun or whatever. But many people, including myself, use it for business too. And so, I expect my email provider to be professional and reliable.

Imagine my shock when I logged in to Gmail today and was alerted to a new feature called "Shelfie". Now, I'm just trying to read my email, but instead I get presented with an alert, so I assume it is serious. But no, it turns out that is was an April Fool's prank that sets a picture of Katy Perry as my theme. Funny right? Heck, no. This nonsense really needs to stop.

Don't get me wrong, I love jokes. Heck, I'm a regular connoisseur of comedy. If I want a laugh I'll load some Louis C.K. or Kids in the Hall on YouTube. However, if my accountant or lawyer dropped a bucket of water on my head or had me sit on a whoopee-cushion, I'd be pretty mad. Why? Because professional people do not play pranks. It is inappropriate.

And that is my issue with Google. As a provider of email plus other services, the company should have outgrown pranks by now. The "Shelfie" prank is a massive fail on many levels.

  1. It slowed me down -- When checking email, I want to get in and get out. I was waiting for an important communication and instead, I was forced to read nonsensical garbage about a prank. Time is money and this wasted my time.
  2. It set my theme as a picture of Katy Perry -- While seemingly harmless, I was checking my email in public. I like to get respect from people I work and meet with. The picture makes me look goofy. I actually like Ms. Perry, but not when I am trying to make a certain impression. Some may say that I could have just closed the window. However, the pop-up says "Not sure? Use the Top Trending Shelfies". I wasn't sure, so that's what I did.
  3. It causes users to let their guard down -- This is the most serious aspect. Throughout the year, people are lectured on being safe online and safeguarding their information. Pranks in Gmail will cause users to let their guard down. Online bad-guys can take advantage of the comical nature of Google, to try to do devious things, like phishing. That strange attachment that they receive in an email, that they would normally not click, now becomes attractive when labelled as a Google prank.

While some will say I am overreacting to a harmless joke, I must disagree. Pranks have their place, and if Google wants to make some silly spoof blog posts, so be it. However, pop-up windows in Gmail that alter the interface is unacceptable and amateurish.

Do you agree with me? Tell me in the comments.

Image Credit: alexmillos/Shutterstock

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