Have you seen this video of a hawk crashing a picnic in Australia? The bird picks up a snake and tosses it at some people minding their own business. The poor folks then run off in horror. The video has gone viral, with nearly one million views in the past day. But it's totally fake.
How do we know this video is fake? There are a few really strong clues.
1) "Oh, there's a hawk..."
The video is suspicious from its opening seconds. The person taking the footage opens with a shot of the food, which itself looks very stage-managed. The cameraman then immediately points his camera up to the sky and proclaims in an awkward tone, "Oh, there's a hawk...." What happened to the food? Tell us the story of the food! I want to learn more about those two sausages on the plate? What's their story!?
2) The pointing
Typically when everyone is looking at the same thing, you don't have to point to draw everyone's attention to it. Maybe this guy just points as a natural reaction to seeing something in the sky, but if you were planning on making a fake video of a computer-generated bird flying around, pointing in the sky is basically mandatory -- even if it's not what people naturally do. If we had better angles on the people I'm sure they'd be pointing at the computer-generated snake at the end as well.
3) No reflection in the water
There's no reflection of the bird in the water. Watch the video again. Or check out the gif below. Nothing. No reflection. Could it be a vampire bird? That's certainly a possibility. And I assure you that Gizmodo is working night and day to look into that possibility. But for the time being we're going to have to declare this video fake.
GIF capture of the fake viral video, clearly showing no reflection in the water (YouTube)
4) The makers of the video have said it's fake
And perhaps the strongest evidence that this video is fake as the day is long? The Hawthorn Hawks football team announced today that the video was all a viral marketing stunt. Get it? Hawks. Get it?
From the Hawks website:
HAWTHORN have launched their 2016 finals campaign, Embrace the hunt, with the release of an innovative viral video.
The video which features a hawk dropping a snake onto a family picnicking along the Yarra River was originally posted to YouTube on Tuesday morning under the alias of 'Douglas Wong.'
Hawthorn's media team partnered with Melbourne production company, The Woolshed, in an attempt to create a video that would encapsulate the club's finals theme and generate widespread media coverage.
Embrace the Hunt launched on Wednesday afternoon as the Hawks begin their quest for a fourth straight premiership.
"It was quite incredible," said a Hawthorn spokesperson.
"We wanted everyone to know that it's September and the Hawks are on the attack and hopefully we've succeeded.
"Our aim was to create a real buzz around the launch of our seventh consecutive finals campaign and really get people talking.
"The debate over its authenticity has been had by various media outlets across both Australia and the globe.
"Hopefully we haven't scared too many people off a BBQ by the Yarra."
In a cheeky move a Geelong Cats sticker featured on the esky of the unsuspecting family in a pointer to next Friday night's Qualifying final between Hawthorn and Geelong.
The fake video generated over 5 million views in 48-hours and has been published by multiple media outlets around the world.
So there you go, I guess. I still say it could be a vampire bird.
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