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'Against the Law to Fake Having COVID-19' on April 1

Countries threaten jail time for virus-related pranks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2020 4:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – This April Fools' Day, very few people are in the mood for being pranked—or for reading news stories more surreal than what is already happening. Companies like Google have called off their annual corporate jokes and in some countries, authorities have warned that anybody spreading misinformation about the outbreak could face fines or jail time, reports Reuters. "It's against the law to fake having COVID-19 this April Fools' Day," the government of Thailand told citizens. Authorities in India, Taiwan, and Germany have also warned people against spreading fake news on April Fools' Day, the Hill reports.

At Google, long known for its April Fools' spoofs, the company is going to "take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic," according to an internal email seen by Business Insider. In the email, head of marketing Lorraine Twohill says "centralized" April Fools' gags have already been axed and warns team leaders to pause any smaller jokes they might have planned. "Tip for any brands planning an April Fools' Day stunt. Just. Don't," tweeted James Herring at the Taylor Herring PR agency. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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