LONDON: The joke was on Google Friday when it had to pull an April Fools’ Day prank featuring characters from the “Despicable Me” movies that landed users of its Gmail service in trouble.
To mark the annual day of practical jokes, the US technology giant added an extra send button to its email service that included a gif of a minion, one of the yellow creatures from the popular animated comedy films.
But many unsuspecting users hit the button and sent important business emails and reportedly even funeral arrangements with the light-hearted cartoon.
“This is horrible — Just sent an email to a client with this stupid icon on it,” wrote user David Kitner on the Gmail help forum. “I can’t afford these stupid pranks!”
Another user, Faye Davies, added: “I send a legal document which affects mine and my family’s life and you stick that button in the place of a send button… Grow up.”
Google later withdrew the feature and apologised.
“Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year,” it said. “The MicDrop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off.”
Meanwhile, readers of newspapers around the world were left puzzling over whether a series of improbable stories were true or not.
Britain’s papers, traditional bastions of the April Fools’ tradition, concentrated on the June 23 referendum on membership of the European Union to trick readers.
The Guardian claimed to have exclusive information that Greek-born Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, would defy Britain’s strict constitutional rules and come out in favour of the EU, given his “impeccable European credentials”.
According to the paper’s “well-connected source”, the royal family had turned against London mayor and high-profile anti-EU campaigner Boris Johnson as he had “made it difficult to get around London in a decent-sized Daimler”.
However, there were apparently concerns that Philip could not be trusted with a live broadcast given his “propensity for swearing,” the paper’s prank story said.
The spoof came after a recent Sun newspaper story claiming that the queen was in favour of Britain leaving the EU which prompted Buckingham Palace to complain to Britain’s press watchdog.