April Fool’s Day pranksters might end up behind bars this year as countries take on serious measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus and crack down on misinformation.
The government in Thailand warned that anyone who jokes about the coronavirus on Wednesday could face up to five years in prison.
“It’s against the law to fake having COVID-19 this April Fools’ Day,” the Thai government said.
— TheNationThailand (@nationnews) March 31, 2020
India’s Anil Deshmukh, who is the home minister for Maharashtra state, said authorities would act “swiftly and strongly” against people who peddle false information about the COVID-19 virus.
“The state govt won’t allow anyone to spread rumors/panic on #Corona,” Deshmukh tweeted.
Tomorrow’s April 1st. The annual tradition making an ‘April Fool’ of people has already begun on WhatsApp & social media. The state govt won’t allow anyone to spread rumours/panic on #Corona. I’ve instructed @MahaCyber1 to act swiftly & strongly such miscreants.#NoCoronaRumour
— ANIL DESHMUKH (@AnilDeshmukhNCP) March 31, 2020
Germany is also calling on people who plan to get silly on April Fool’s Day to refrain from making light of the coronavirus pandemic. The health ministry told citizens under the banner of “Corona is no joke” not to make up stories about the pandemic, according to Reuters.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said anyone caught spreading rumors or pulling pranks related to the illness could spent up to three years in prison or be fined about $100,000.
Coronavirus-focused prohibitions aren’t just coming from countries, but also companies. Google has long reveled in April Fool’s Day celebrations, but this year the technology giant said it would refrain from any pranks.
“Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one,” the company told staff in an internal email.
Worldwide, there have been more than 823,000 confirmed cases of the virus and at least associated 40,708 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
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