The April Fools' Day defense kit.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
March 31 2008 7:51 AM

The April Fools' Day Defense Kit

This year, don't be taken for a sucker by the media.

As April 1 approaches, prudent observers will be on the lookout for the media's latest hoaxes. Last year, in anticipation of April Fools' Day, Jack Shafer offered advice on how to avoid becoming the victim of the media's shenanigans. 

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New-product announcements that arrive on or near April 1, such as the left-handed Whopper, should be approached with skepticism, Boese says, but he cautions against reflexive hoax-spotting. On March 31, 2004, Google released the beta version of Gmail, which featured 1 GB of free storage, cavernous compared to other e-mail provider offerings. That was the same day the company unveiled its Googlelunaplex plans. The moon joke and the generosity of Gmail's 1 GB storage caused some nerds to sense a con and insist—wrongly—that Gmail was a giant April Fools' Day hoax.

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For a GoogleGulp of hoaxes, check out Alex Boese's bookHippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S. What hilarious media-generated April Fool's Day hoax have I missed? Send your nominations to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.