Do Not Fool Will Make the Internet Explode

Original at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

Joint post with Arvind Narayanan.

Earlier today Mozilla announced support for Do Not Fool, a proposed mechanism for opting out of April Fools’ pranks. We cannot support this misguided effort.

First, Do Not Fool would require fundamentally reengineering the Internet, the HTTP protocol, and countless websites. Many of your favorite web destinations like The Onion rely on fooling.

Second, fooling is integral to the American competitive landscape and to innovation. In fact, Do Not Fool would demolish the web’s revenue channels. Don’t just take our word for it—industry-funded, non-peer reviewed, quasi-relevant research proves that fooling accounts for over 99.9% of online revenues.

Third, self-regulation is working. Every time you get fooled today, you have the opportunity to click a tiny icon—on sites that support it—to learn more about how you’ve been fooled. And over fifty major pranksters already allow you to set a cookie to opt out of getting fooled by them, once you figure out who they are. (Though roughly half are just fooling you with that opt out.)

Don’t enable this dangerous new feature. Don’t be fooled by Do Not Fool.