Google Terminates Gmail Mic Drop April Fool's Day Feature After it Backfires
Posted on April 1, 2016
Google launched an April Fool's Joke on Gmail earlier today called Gmail Mic Drop. The April Fool added a feature that let you have the last word on Gmail. Gmail would send an image of a Minion dropping a microphone and the recipient would then not be able to respond to you.Google says in its blogpost, "Email's great, but sometimes you just wanna hit the eject button. Like those heated threads at work, when everyone's wrong except you (obviously). Or those times when someone's seeking group approval, but your opinion is the only one that matters (amirite?). Or maybe you just nailed it, and there's nothing more to say (bam). Today, Gmail is making it easier to have the last word on any email with Mic Drop. Simply reply to any email using the new 'Send + Mic Drop' button. Everyone will get your message, but that's the last you'll ever hear about it. Yes, even if folks try to respond, you won't see it."
It was a fun idea but it didn't work out that way for some users. The Mic Drop button was right next to the send button and people frequently hit it by mistake. Some people complained they accidentally sent Mic Drop emails to their employers or potential employers. The Telegraph reports that some users say Mic Drop cost them their jobs. Verge reports that some users also found the Fool's Day feature to be buggy and "mic drops" would be sent out even when the regular send button was pressed.
Google pulled the Mic Drop feature at 4 a.m. eastern time this morning. Google wrote this on its Gmail blog post in an update: "Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We're truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page."
Gmail probably could have used a second layer of protection on the Mic Drop feature. Such as a pop-up that said, "Are you sure you want to send a Mic Drop to -----?" This might have helped reduced the problem but adding any kind of feature like that to an email service is going to create at least a small risk for users that use it for business.
This is the first time Google has had to quickly reverse an April Fool. Has the Internet become too grownup and serious for April Fool's fun? No, but tech companies do have to be extra careful not to do cause problems or confusion. Not everyone wakes up on April 1st on full April Fool's Day alert.