YouTube shuts, Google sniffs, Twitter slims in April Fool gags

YouTube announced Sunday it was going dark for a decade, and that the site was merely an eight-year contest to find the best video. (YouTube video)

YouTube is shutting down, Twitter users have to pay for the use of vowels, and the new Google Nose search engine will bring a whiff of wet dog or daisies right to your computer or smartphone.

Smells fishy? These Internet giants went all-out to try and bamboozle their users with April Fool's gags on the most mischievous day of the year.

YouTube, the world's largest video sharing site, revealed it had merely been an eight-year contest to find the best video and would be closing to review all the entries. The winner would be announced in 2023.

"We are so close to the end. Tonight at midnight, YouTube.com will no longer be accepting entries. After eight amazing years, it is finally time to review everything that has been uploaded to our site and begin the process of selecting a winner," said Tim Liston, named as "competition director".

In keeping with its prankster reputation, Google also unveiled a complex search engine that would offer "the sharpest olfactory experience available".

The search engine claims to have a database of smells from all over the world. Users can search for "new car smell", or "Egyptian tomb", sniff their screen and even share it with a friend.

Meanwhile micro-blogging site Twitter said it had decided to shave off even more characters by providing a new vowel-free service to users.

"Trd th nw Twttr yt? Mr tm fr mr twts" (Translation: "Tried the new Twitter yet? More time for more tweets") the site announced. Of course, vowels would still be available but only to premium users willing to pay five dollars a month.

Several recent newsmakers were targeted in April Fool's Day pranks, with North Korea cropping up twice.

South Africa's Daily Maverick newspaper carried a story headlined "Exclusive: Oscar Pistorius signs up for North Korea's inaugural Friendship Run."

The paper said the double-amputee paralympian sprint star who is charged with killing his model girlfriend will lead SA's team in Kim Jong-Un's bid to build bridges between less understood world regimes and less understood global figures.

"Just days after being allowed to travel while on bail, Oscar Pistorius has received an unexpected honour: A personal invitation from North Korea's newly minted and beloved leader, Kim Jong-Un, to join the many worthy celebrities participating in his Friendship Run, a 10km race through the exquisitely manicured streets of Pyongyang.

When he heard of the invitation, Pistorius said: "I'll take it."

On hearing that the race was not going to be his favourite 400m sprint, but 25 times longer at 10km, Pistorius curtly replied: "I'll be fine", the paper reported.

Meanwhile German news website Tagesschau.de reported that actor David Hasselhoff, known for roles in Baywatch and Knight Rider, had been asked by the US State Department to mediate in North Korea.

"Until now, diplomatic efforts have gotten us nowhere, as have resolutions and sanctions. Why not try less controversial methods for once?" the newspaper cited State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland as saying.

Hasselhoff is very popular in Germany, where he had a number one hit with his song "Looking for Freedom" which he sang in front of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

He recently sang the song to massive crowds in the German capital protesting the removal of a part of the wall for a construction project.

From the call to politics to the call of nature, environmental organisation WWF unveiled a revolutionary urinal equipped with an electric turbine which could allow men to generate power while peeing.

It said that if just one-tenth of Swiss restaurants adopted the system, the country could shut down a nuclear power plant.

The WWF said developing a similar toilet for women was a more complex process, but that researchers hoped to have one ready by 2016.

The Huffington Post news website reported that the wealthy Qatari backers of London's Shard skyscraper were building the "Shlide", a heart-stopping thrill ride curving all the way down the 72-floor building.

Providing an image of the slide, the site quotes project coordinator "Dizzy" Lizzy McGovern, who said there had been some teething problems in the project.

"We wish Brian, the initial tester, a speedy recovery after the operation to replace both his knees."

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