Back in April, the Internet was rife with debate over a video showing a bear supposedly chasing a snowboarder.
The video, which has been viewed over eight million times, showed a woman strapping on her snowboard, extending a selfie stick and cruising down a hill while listening to music. Midway through the video, a bear appears in the background — it appeared to be chasing her.
The bear chase video ignited a worldwide debate about the authenticity of the video — here at Global News, we even wrote an article asking video forensic experts to weigh in.
Turns out, the video was fake all along.
An Australian video production company has revealed that it was behind eight viral videos that were expertly produced and faked, all for what the company is calling a “social experiment.”
The Woolshed Company has claimed it was behind several highly-debated viral hits — including the snowboarder being chased by a bear, a shark caught on camera by a swimmer in Sydney Harbour and another supposedly showing a lightning bolt striking just metres from a woman on a beach.
The experiment as a whole earned over 205 million online views in over 180 countries.
Several of the videos were picked up by international news outlets; however, like us, many had experts weigh in on their authenticity.
Some of the videos were quick to be called out as fakes — for example, both video forensics experts we spoke with regarding the snowboarding video agreed that the video was likely a fraud.
“Our eyes are pretty complex. And if we can visually look at something, and something just doesn’t feel right or just doesn’t seem right, that’s probably the case,” said video forensics expert David McKay, who worked with the RCMP for six years.
WATCH: Is a snowboarder’s bear chase video real?
However, the company claims this was all part of the experiment.
“The world watched, they shared and then they argued like hell over their authenticity. And it was this debate over authenticity that propelled each video’s viral success,” read a statement on the company’s website.
According to the Woolshed Company’s managing director, Dave Christison, the viral experiment proved that short-form video content can reach a worldwide audience “without the luxury ad campaigns, publicity strategies or distribution deals.”
But, perhaps more importantly, it may have taught some to use a more critical eye when watching the latest viral video.