Web pranks reign on April Fools' Day

Web pranks reign on April Fools' Day

Internet giants get in on the act

April Fools' Day 2008 was highlighted by simple and elaborate pranks from some of the biggest names on the web.

Search engines, news sites and even popular video services turned jester for the day to pull pranks on users.

One of the most visible was performed by YouTube, which redirected all links from its front page to a video of Rick Astley's 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up.

Known as 'rickrolling', the practice of redirecting links to the Astley video has become a popular prank with users in recent years.

News site Digg got in on the fun by replacing the number of Diggs on a story with a mathematical symbol when a user attempted to vote for the story.

The BBC pulled a fast one on its users by way of a video supposedly documenting a new breed of flying penguins.

The net's top April Fool prank, however, may have been the joint effort between Google and Virgin. The two companies announced a Virgle project to colonise Mars with "Virgle Pioneers".

The two companies even went so far as to create a website and press release for the prank featuring quotes from Larry Page and Sir Richard Branson, who were also said to be backing the new Martian colony.

"Some people are calling Virgle an 'interplanetary Noah's Ark'. I'm one of them," Branson said in the press release.

"For me, Virgle evokes the spirit of explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo, who set sail looking for the New World. I do hope we'll be a bit more efficient about actually finding it, though."