Fact or foolery: With government and IT, is there a difference?

Are these headlines real, or it is April 1?

April 1 is upon us, which means it’s wise to keep an eye out for pranks, hoaxes and fake news stories out to get you with a gotcha.

It’s a long-standing tradition, that apparently goes back to the switch to the Gregorian calendar in France in 1582, when Jan. 1 was declared the beginning of the new year. Before then, the new year began on March 25, followed by an eight-day festival that ended in the beginning of April.

Some people either didn’t get the memo or refused to change their ways, so they rolled into the villages and towns at the end of March determined to celebrate around the clock, even though there was nothing to celebrate. They were called April Fools, and they went on to found a number of college fraternities.

Since then, the date has become synonymous with a variety of shenanigans. We’re usually on the lookout around here for a good April Fool’s Day story, but there’s a problem: When you deal with government and technology, it’s sometimes hard to tell fact from foolery.

So we propose to put your hoax detectors to the test. Below are eight headlines that could be truthful or not. Can you tell which is which? The answers appear on the next page.

1. DARPA plans to embed tracking device in DNA for surveillance

2. Microsoft files complaint about bullying business practices … by someone else

3. In event of government shutdown, IRS to keep your tax-return money

4. Researchers produce first plastic processors, printed memory

5. Hack of Treasury database reveals federal surplus

6. Top tech organization hacked, personal and credit card data stolen

7. Congress won’t budge on budget, Obama mulls no-fly zone for Hill

8. International Criminal Court announces new '3 strikes' genocide policy

ANSWERS:

1. DARPA plans to embed tracking device in DNA for surveillance

True, actually. It’s a long-shot at the moment, but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking to fund research into technologies that could be built into the genome of microorganisms and keep track of any changes made to the organism’s genes, according to Discover magazine.

2. Microsoft files complaint about bullying business practices … by someone else

True again. The company filed a complaint with the European Commission claiming that Google is using its leverage to hinder the growth of Microsoft services, according to the BBC. What goes around comes around.

3. In event of government shutdown, IRS to keep your tax-return money

True, maybe, but only temporarily. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told The Hill that the agency is considering a plan to deposit checks but not process returns in the event of a shutdown.

4. Researchers produce first plastic processors, printed memory

True, of course, reports MIT’s Technology Review.

5. Hack of Treasury database reveals federal surplus

Would be nice, but not true.

6. World’s top tech organization hacked, personal and credit card data stolen

True. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which describes itself as the world's largest technical professional society, told 800 of its members that their personal data, including credit card numbers, may have been stolen, ThreatPost reports. The FBI has been called.

7. Congress won’t budge on budget, Obama mulls no-fly zone for Hill

Not true, though again, might be nice.

8. International Criminal Court announces new '3 strikes' genocide policy

Yes, it's an actual headline, but it's from the Onion.

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