Revealed: Our April Fool’s story on ‘phone aware’ spy cameras

Well, we got away with it. Our blog yesterday “New ‘phone aware’ cameras on test in UK” was widely shared across Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Traffic to the story was significantly up on normal levels, and referrals to the site from social media were the highest ever as a proportion of our web site traffic.

But is was an April Fool.

Even the BBC Top Gear forum on LinkedIn fell victim to our little ruse, with a number comments being added, all answered deadpan by FVL.

Top Gear forum website page

The BBC Top Gear Discussion Group on LinkedIn fell for our April Fool

Commenting on the revelation, Head of Marketing at FVL, David Petherick, who authored the piece and released it into social channels, had this to say:

“The secret of a successful April Fool’s joke is including just enough detail, context and credibility to make people think it’s for real. With this piece, I made sure there were a couple of unsubtle clues, such as the fact that the source was quoted as The Guardian, but the link from that citation, and from the photo, were actually ‘rickrolls‘ to a Rick Astley video. I also added an obvious inline citation that said ‘1st April 2014′.

Phone Aware spoof

Our ‘phone-aware’ safety camera spoof fooled a lot of people.

“However, there were several credible quotes (all completely fabricated) from various bodies who we have cited before in our blogs related to road safety, but there’s no Police Area called West Murcía. West Mercia, yes. Murcía is in Spain. The photo, too, sourced from Wikipedia, has a few little ‘dangly bits’ in addition to the standard cameras, which few people outside the road management or highway safety industry would recognise. Mentioning military-standard infra-red is the kind of detail that lets you swallow the big fib. I even managed to fool a few members of our staff for a while, although I must admit one of them did spot it instantly. Of course, he was censored until now.

“However, I don’t want to trivialise the fact that there’s a serious road safety issue surrounding the use and abuse of mobile phones. We’ve been blogging regularly about road safety matters here, and will continue to do so in the future. Driver distraction is a very serious issue, and phones are one of the main distractions, so we’ve been supporting the work of charities like Brake to highlight the dangers surrounding this issue.”

  • Did you get fooled by an April Fool story yesterday?
    What was it, and when did you find out? Go on, we won’t tell anyone…

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