True or false? An April Fools' cheat sheet

Microsoft buys Yahoo? TechCrunch sues Facebook? Here's a handy rundown of the fakery now flooding the Web.


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Farhad Manjoo
April 1, 2008 9:27PM (UTC)

Techmeme, the popular tech-news aggregator, abounds on this first day of April with dubious stories. Here's a rundown of the big tech news items of the day -- some are true, some are false. Down below, I've included a cheat sheet.

  • Yahoo and Microsoft agree on buyout.

    InfoWorld reports that

    After much internal debate and industry speculation, Yahoo today agreed to be acquired by Microsoft, adding $2.6 billion to Redmond's original offer of $44.6 billion on Jan. 31.

    True or false?

  • Microsoft Unlikely to Raise Yahoo Offer

    The Wall Street Journal says:

    Microsoft Corp. is preparing to lay a long siege.

    Two months after Microsoft made its $44.6 billion offer to acquire Yahoo Inc., the software maker has no plans to raise its bid, people close to the company say.

    Such pronouncements are standard in deal negotiations but people close to Microsoft insist the stance isn't posturing. While speculation has swirled that Microsoft was poised to raise its bid, Microsoft is instead biding its time. The software giant likely hopes to use the potential of a sweetened offer to lure Yahoo into serious discussions. So far the two sides have only had one meeting.

    True or false?

  • Google and Virgin launch project for a human settlement on Mars

    In a press release, the two companies announce:

    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.

    "Some people are calling Virgle an 'interplanetary Noah's Ark,'" said Virgin Group President and Founder Sir Richard Branson, who conceived the new venture. "I'm one of them. It's a potentially remarkable business, but more than that, it's a glorious adventure. 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."

    True or false?

  • Comcast blurs high-definition TV shows

    The New York Times' Saul Hansell reports:

    Not only has Comcast been slowing down Internet users exchanging files with the BitTorrent protocol, it has been quietly reducing the quality of some high definition television networks it carries as well.

    Most people will hardly notice the change, and the HD channels affected are still a lot better looking that standard definition signals. But Ken Fowler, a devoted high definition video aficionado did. He had Verizon's FIOS video offering. But he also signed up for Comcast's service in order to watch the Washington Nationals in high definition. On some networks carried by both operators, Mr. Fowler noticed that the picture quality on Comcast was inferior.

    True or false?

  • Gmail lets you send e-mail from the past

    Google's e-mail app's new feature works this way:

    Just click 'Set custom time' from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient's inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option.

    True or false?

  • Facebook founder to host "Saturday Night Live"

    CNet News.com reports:

    In a surprise move that has shocked Silicon Valley, young Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will guest host an upcoming episode of "Saturday Night Live," according to multiple sources.

    The mild-mannered Zuckerberg, best-known for vanilla-flavored speeches filled with talking points about "the social graph" and "making communication more efficient," will provide the opening monologue as well as appear in a number of sketches on the NBC show's April 5 episode.

    True or false?

  • TechCrunch sues Facebook for $25 million

    Influential tech blogger Michael Arrington says...

    So we've been increasingly concerned about developments at Facebook over the last few months that allow advertisers to post ads using my picture and name to endorse their products without my explicit permission. I've received literally dozens of emails from readers asking me if I'm associated with Blockbuster's Movie Clique application, or the new Jackass movie (no to both).....

    True or false?

  • I'm Googling for you!

    In a post last night, I announced my new start-up, I Google For You.:

    At I Google For You, I will Google for you. You type in what you're looking for. I will search for it. When I find a site that I believe fits your query, I'll send you back the link.

    You read correctly: Unlike my rival search sites, I send you back a single link. As I explain in the site's FAQ, I am a terrific Googler with years of search-engine experience, so I can cut through the chaos online to find you the one link you need. Wading through thousands of bad links is my job, not yours.

    True or false?

The Answers

  • Yahoo and Microsoft agree on buyout.

    FALSE.

    Back to top.

  • Microsoft Unlikely to Raise Yahoo Offer

    TRUE. (It's the Wall Street Journal! They don't play that way.)

    Back to top.

  • Google and Virgin launch project for a human settlement on Mars

    FALSE. (Google always launches pranks like this.)

    Back to top.

  • Comcast blurs high-definition TV shows

    TRUE. (It's the New York Times, no kidding around. Hansell reports: "Jenni Moyer, a Comcast spokeswoman, confirmed that the company, like all cable and satellite systems, does compress its signals, but it tries hard to maintain the quality.")

    Back to top.

  • Gmail lets you send e-mail from the past

    FALSE.

    Back to top.

  • Facebook founder to host "Saturday Night Live"

    FALSE. (But it'd be funny.)

    Back to top.

  • TechCrunch sues Facebook for $25 million

    FALSE.

    Back to top.

  • I'm Googling For You!

    ????

    As I Google For You's FAQ states:

    Q: Is this an April Fool's Day joke?
    No, this is an innovative Web 2.0 start-up.

    Back to top.

Have you seen any other questionable stories out there? Send them along to machinist@salon.com.

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Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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