Recently, on April Fools’ Day, a prank backfired on a 13-year-old boy who posed as a stranger and texted his former classmate, threatening to kidnap her. He had hoped to scare the girl, but her mother read the messages, took the threat seriously and informed the police. Since the girl was his former classmate, he had information about her. He sent several messages to her phone, claiming to be a 42-year-old professional kidnapper.

Not realising it was April Fools’ Day and that the whole thing was merely a prank, the girl’s parents made frantic calls to relatives and the school staff to ensure their daughter was safe. Once the parents reached the school and found her safe, they went to the Santacruz police station, where cops began ringing the boy’s number. When the boy did not pick up the calls, the cops messaged him. At this point, the boy got nervous and began sending apologetic messages to the girl’s number. Finally, it was revealed that the entire gimmick was a joke, and the frightened boy was let off with a stern warning. While this ‘prank’ did not lead to very serious consequences for him, people must be very careful about their ‘hoaxes’ and ‘pranks’, not just on Fools’ Day but every day.

A quick Internet check will show that there have been pranks about bomb blasts, assassination of political leaders, jokes about how one country lifted sanctions against the other, a joke about prisoners being freed from prison en masse and more. Some of these jokes put people in potentially dangerous situations.

One should step back a little and think about possible repercussions. We live in an age when jokes and rumours are amplified a thousand times, simply because of the medium that we have at our fingertips the Internet and its adjacent social media like Facebook and Twitter. Even when playing pranks on friends, one must always be mindful of the invisible line that cannot be crossed.

Keep your jokes truly funny, light-hearted and most importantly, safe, at all times.