How to find your messages if you fell for Google’s ‘Mic Drop’ prank

It's April Fools' Day, so Google decided to have a little fun with its users by adding a new function to Gmail: the "Mic Drop."

Using one of the Internet's favorite mascots, minions from "Despicable Me," Google replaced its normal "Send and Archive" button with a bright-orange one that guaranteed you'd have the last word by blocking any replies that may come after that message. It also appended a sassy little GIF of a minion dropping a mic.

Cute, right? But panic — not hilarity — ensued after the prank was deployed. Google's product forums were soon full of reports from users saying that the feature had seriously hurt them personally and professionally when they hit the button by accident for emails that they really shouldn't have. The complaints prompted Google to take back its joke and apologize for the inconvenience.

Oh, dear.

For those affected by the prank, there is, however, a way to recover your messages. You can find the replies to your email in the "All Mail" folder, a Google spokesman said. Users on Google's help forums have also reported that you can find any replies by finding the email thread in your "Sent" folder, and then moving it to your Inbox. While it won't undo whatever damage may already be done, you will at least be able to see how people responded. Then, you can send a fresh email explaining the circumstances.

It'd be easy to say that those complaining just can't take a joke. Yet that glosses over the fact that email is a channel for some pretty serious communication.

"I send a legal document which affects mine and my family's life and you stick that button in the place of a send button," reads a post from one of many complainants pointing out that maybe the feature wasn't such a good idea. Others said on the forum that they may have lost job opportunities because of the feature, after accidentally using it in emails to prospective employers or to freelance editors. Technologist Andy Baio, after criticizing Google for their "short-sighted" prank, posted more examples of people who'd run afoul of the prank, including one woman who accidentally attached the GIF to a request for prayers.

Google, to its credit, wholeheartedly acknowledged that it messed up. In a statement, the company said, "Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the MicDrop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page." The company did not disclose what, if anything, it paid to license the Minion characters for the joke feature.

The Google spokesman said that the company isn't sure how many people may have used the feature between when it first went live at 1 a.m. Friday Zurich time (7 p.m. Eastern on Thursday) and when it was removed around 3 a.m. Eastern. The feature was not turned on for professional "Google Apps" accounts — which may have limited some of the potential professional damage —  but it's clear that a lot of people use the consumer version of Gmail for serious business as well.

Things appear to be back to normal for most Gmail users; in fact, many users may have never seen the button at all. But some users have reported that they've had trouble getting the feature to stop with conversations on which they've already used "Mic Drop," in some circumstances. For example, some users have reported using the joke feature on a draft email with no recipients, only to find themselves still unable to get replies after using the normal send button.

Is this a lesson in being careful about what you click? Yes. But it should also be a lesson for companies to think carefully about how people actually use their products — and a cautionary tale in how not to mess that up.

By Hayley Tsukayama | The Washington Post

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Tech Magazine: How to find your messages if you fell for Google’s ‘Mic Drop’ prank
How to find your messages if you fell for Google’s ‘Mic Drop’ prank
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