No one really knows why videos go viral, but one thing's for sure: they're a great way to get your 15 minutes of fame. With everyone vying to be the next big viral video to hit the scene, it comes as no surprise that a handful of videos that have blown up over the years weren't as real as they pretended to be. Thanks to Jimmy Kimmel, who deceived us all with the staged video of a twerking girl who catches fire, we're looking back at the biggest viral video hoaxes that have taken the Internet by storm through the years.
The Twerk Fail Seen 'Round the World
The video of the twerk gone seriously wrong has gotten over 10 million views in the past week. News and entertainment outlets alike quickly turned the video into a sensation, and Jimmy Kimmel revealed in his show last night that the most epic twerk fail of all time was actually staged with the help of a stuntwoman. He brought her on the show via Skype, only to reveal that she was actually broadcasting from a bedroom set in his studio. He then released an "extended cut," which featured him extinguishing the fire on the twerker in question.
Barack Obama's Dramatic Exit
In July 2011, President Barack Obama reportedly made an abrupt exit from an intense meeting with congressional leaders regarding the debt ceiling. The Internet was soon buzzing with a clip of the president excusing himself from the podium and kicking the door in as he exited. The video was later discredited in a video that points out obvious evidence of editing. But where did the door kicking clip in question come from? As it turns out, the suspect is The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Jay did a small series of jokes in his monologues, and the edited clip was originally featured during the bit.
Falcon Heene, the 6-Year-Old Balloon Boy
The helium balloon scandal in October 2009 had everyone anxiously following the coverage of 6-year-old Falcon Heene, who allegedly snuck into a helium balloon just before his father shot it into the sky. The story spread like wildfire across news outlets, and even multiple social media platforms, but when the balloon finally landed, Falcon wasn't inside; he was later found hiding in the attic. More suspicious details emerged, including a CNN interview where Falcon admits, "We did this for the show." The family later signed an affidavit confirming that they staged the entire thing, resulting in a $45,000 fine.
Check out the other viral videos that faked us out when you read on.
Pig Rescues Goat
This little piggy captured the heart of more than 8 million people when it swam into a river to save a goat in danger. It wasn't revealed until much later, though, that the whole ordeal was elaborately coordinated by animal trainers and the crew members behind the Comedy Central show Nathan For You. They even posted a behind-the-scenes video of sorts, showing the process behind the fake clip.
Charge Your iPod With an Onion
Tech geeks and common folk alike were enthralled with the groundbreaking tutorial that showed how to get an electrical charge using just an onion and some Gatorade. And yet, while everyone was getting fired up about an awesome new development, all of the world's iPods were left without a charge. The tutorial was quickly unplugged by multiple sources, and the case was even cracked on an episode of Mythbusters.
Lonelygirl15: The Staged YouTube Series
Lonelygirl15 became one of the first ever successful YouTube series when it began in 2006. The episodes featured a seemingly normal 16-year-old girl who was documenting her journey through adolescence and into adulthood. The series eventually took a strange turn, including Satanic undertones, until an army of bloggers discovered the real truth: that lonelygirl15 was just a work of fiction. The minds behind the project fessed up to the truth, championing the series as proof that success is no longer in the hands of giant corporations.
Golden Eagle Snatches Baby
What seemed like a quiet day in a Montreal park turned into chaos when an eagle unexpectedly swooped out of the sky and plucked an unsuspecting baby from the grass. The eagle proceeded to carry him off, but only got so far before it had to drop the dead weight and move on. The most stunning part of this story, though, isn't that an eagle kidnapped a little boy — it's that the whole thing was fabricated by four Canadian film students. Although the validity of the video was eventually disproved, they still managed to pull off an A.
The Fake eHarmony Video Bio
Debbie, the eHarmony user who really loves cats, posted her bio video for all to see, and the Internet went insane for the slightly crazed cat lady. The video features a young girl who's trying to find love and who loves cats so much, it drives her to tears. It wasn't very long before Debbie was outed as a paid actress. The hoax even garnered a response from eHarmony itself, who made a spoof video in response!
Of course, it's sad the biggest twerk fail of all time is fake. It's certainly not the first viral video hoax, and it won't be the last. Just take comfort in the fact that some videos are the real deal.
Looking for more details about these videos? Check out our segment on POPSUGAR Live: