It's April 1st somewhere in the world already, so apparently that's a good excuse for Google to launch a rather funny, and somewhat frightening, April Fool's Day 2013 stunt on YouTube. Taken at face value, it changes everything we are supposed to know about the site and its purpose.
In a video uploaded on the official YouTube channel today, Google has announced that for the past eight years everyone who has been uploading video clips to the site has in fact been entering a contest. The admission period is supposed to end late on Sunday.
What happens next? Google says it will shut down YouTube and delete all of the videos on the site. It will then start the process of judging all of the videos and select a winner. The clip shows the judges debating which videos are better than others (we especially liked the "product unboxing" reference). We also get to see the people behind some of the most famous YouTube videos stating how much they want to win this contest.
We are told that popularity is not a factor in winning, so Gangnam Style, with its 1.4 billion videos (and counting) has just as much chance in winning the big prize as a video with 40 views. The person or persons who created the winning video will get an MP3 player and $500. Unfortunately we will have to wait until 2023 to find out who wins. After that, YouTube will go live again, but will just show the winning video.
Thankfully, this is all an early April Fool's joke; the YouTube video description says so at the end. Of course, some people are still smarting from the company's planned shutdown of Google Reader. We think there might be riots in the streets if YouTube were to close its doors.
Update: Obviously, YouTube did not shut down on Monday but Google is doing a "live feed" that announces the nominees for "best video" anyway. Google says, "Our presenters will be announcing all the nominees for 12 hours every day over the next two years."