After wowing the Internet, a video featuring a pig saving a drowning baby goat has been revealed as a fake.
As a New York Times report revealed on Tuesday, the 30-second clip, which went viral after it was posted on YouTube last September, was artfully staged by the people behind Comedy Central series "Nathan for You."
Broadcast last year on Fox News, NBC's "Nightly News" and ABC's "Good Morning America," as well as posted on sites like Gawker and The Huffington Post, the video -- which has since been seen more than 7 million times -- was, in reality, the result of work by animal trainers and several crew members.
Kelly McBride, a senior faculty member at non-profit journalism school Poynter Institute, told The Huffington Post over the phone on Tuesday that it was disturbing to her that so many media outlets had been duped by the fake clip. (McBride first spoke with the Times regarding the hoax unveiling.)
"When I see several news organizations making the same mistake, it makes me worried that we're creating this environment where everyone is doing the same thing that everyone else is doing without questioning why," she said.
An expert on media ethics, McBride added that the video should have seemed obviously fabricated to a discerning viewer.
"When I looked at that video, it was so obvious to me that it was a fake. It didn't even take me five minutes to come to that conclusion ...There were so many red flags," she said, adding that the journalists who were tricked should be "embarrassed."
Hoax videos are not a new phenomenon in the viral universe. In a Feb. 21 report, Buzzfeed contributor Chris Stokel-Walker explained how a professor and a group of students in Montreal, Canada, managed to pull off a YouTube hoax of epic proportions.
After telling his students to create a fake viral video in his video-effects class, four of Professor Robin Tremblay's students created a clip called "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid." It was entirely fake, but within hours, it had racked up millions of views. The video has now been seen more than 42 million times.
In 2006, in what has been dubbed by Canada's Metro News as "one of the first YouTube hoaxes ever," fans of a web series by YouTube user "lonelygirl15" were stunned when they discovered that the show's star, who had originally claimed to be a young teenager talking about her real life, was really a 19-year-old actress named Jessica Rose.
McBride told the HuffPost that viral hoaxes won't disappear anytime soon. She said that, while the general public is "getting smarter" about discerning the fake from the real in the digital media sphere, she stressed that it's up to those in news organizations to avoid promotion of anything fabricated.
"There's going to continue to be lots and lots of viral hoaxes. That's unquestionable," she remarked. "But the question is: Will professional journalism be part of the problem or part of the solution,?"
Comedy Central on Tuesday posted a making-of video about the viral hoax on its YouTube channel. Watch that video above. The original hoax is below:
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