April Fools Day is fast approaching but nobody's laughing. Google wants to make sure its employees aren't cracking tone-deaf jokes at a serious time when many around the world are hurting due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has killed more than 24,000 and battered the global economy. Its chief marketing officer Lorraine Twohill sent out an email to staff this week warning against trying anything that might make the company look bad.
“Under normal circumstances April Fool’s is a Google tradition and a time to celebrate what makes us an unconventional company,” Twohill wrote in the email seen by Business Insider. “This year, we’re going to take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”
There are better uses of their time — Twohill went on to say that Google's number one priority should be contributing to coronavirus relief efforts. The company's April Fool's tradition has been informal, however, so Twohill wants everyone to help make sure that their teams aren't still planning anything.
“We’ve already stopped any centralized April Fool’s efforts but realize there may be smaller projects within teams that we don’t know about," she continued. "Please suss out those efforts and make sure your teams pause on any jokes they may have planned — internally or externally.”
Google's coronavirus response — Google announced earlier today that it will donate more than $800 million worth of ads, cash, and more to international agencies fighting against the coronavirus. YouTube this week also moved to reduce its default video resolution to 480P as internet networks around the world grapple with unprecedented strain as people are stuck at home and watching videos to pass the time.
Still, Google's employees are some of the most privileged individuals in the world and it would reflect pretty poorly on the company if they were seen releasing gag products while many people are grappling with lost jobs, or loved ones, and are just trying to survive during these uncertain times.