Google Goes to Mars for April Fools'

Dennis Faas's picture

Google displayed its sense of humor Tuesday, April 1st, and avid Goolge fans unwittingly went along for the ride. As bleary-eyed computer users around the world opened their Gmail accounts that morning, they were greeted with a hyperlink in red: 'New! Gmail Custom Time'.

The link led to a page describing how users could now change the time stamp on 10 emails per year! The limit had been decided through a bizarre formula that took into account important factors such as 'Average Life Expectancy', 'Probability that users believe the time stamp' and something called the 'Golden Ratio'. (Source:

The news was accompanied by testimonials from Beta users like Robby the paralegal who was able to cheat an office mail-in contest, a curiously young epistemology professor who derided the new feature as immoral, and Todd the investment banker who was relieved that Google had removed the burden of honesty from his life.

As Gmail fans went back to their accounts to try out the new feature, many were probably wondering, "how can I use my 10 time stamps judiciously? Was this legal? It must be if Google is doing it, right? How can I get this feature on my work account?"

Unfortunately, Time Stamp never appeared. People tried various configurations: forwarding, composing a new message, replying, but nothing worked.

And Google wasn't finished there!

That same day the company announced they had teamed up with Virgin to colonize Mars. The first sentence of the press release read, "Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Virgin Group today announced the launch of Virgle Inc., a jointly owned and operated venture dedicated to the establishment of a human settlement on Mars."

The April Fool's spirit was alive and well in other sectors of the Internet behemoth as well. YouTube users were dismayed to find every featured video on the website's main page linked to Rick Astley's video "Never Gonna Give You Up." Google calendar offered a free wake-up kit, and an 'I'm feeling lucky' button which deposited random appointments on people's schedules. (Source:

Google's fun and games were just that, welcome news after a snake was accidentally let loose on the company's Mountain View Campus during the 2007 April Fool's campaign. Google's unofficial motto may be 'Don't Be Evil', but they seem to relish a little mischief.

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