Needless to say, I scoured the Guardian for April Fool jokes on the day. And duly found the wonderful BMW spoof full-page ad for its revolutionary new SHEF technology. Then I spluttered with indignation over an authoritative-sounding news story reporting that Tony Blair’s Best Friend, the oily Peter Mandelson, had emerged as the surprise front-runner for the post of BBC Chairman.
Of course — you guessed it — the article was a spoof. So the joke’s on me? Well, not just on me. The Guardian pulled the spoof from its archive. But not before Google had indexed it. As the paper tells it:
“Type ‘Peter Mandelson’ into the Google News search and our spoof story turns up at number two in the list of recent articles. And as if that weren’t misleading enough, most of the other articles cited consist of speculation about the former cabinet minister’s next career move.
Being fooled on any other day simply isn’t funny. What’s more, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pull off a successful spoof. That isn’t because the public are becoming more credulous. It’s because so much of what we read in newspapers and online hovers on the very borders of credibility.”