Norwegian director Lars Klevberg has sparked outrage in social media after he admitted to have created the deliberate hoax video, featuring an eight-year-old Syrian boy rescuing a girl trapped in a sniper attack.
The viral video that has had over seven million views was reportedly shot by a Norwegian film director Lars Klevberg, who claimed his intention was to raise awareness on the condition of "children in war zones."
An AFP report stated that the entire clipping, which tricked many to believe that it was shot in Syria by eyewitness using a mobile phone camera, was filmed in Malta last summer using professional actors.
"The motivation behind the production and the Internet release of the film was to spur debate, urge action on behalf of innocent children all over the world who are affected by war," Klevberg said in a press statement, posted on his Twitter account.
"We are pleased that the film spread widely and that the debate has indeed focused on the children's lives during war."
In the film, a young boy braves sniper fire and is seen shot twice, all in attempt to rescue a girl hiding behind a burned car in what seems to be war-torn Syria.
It is now reported that the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) had even funded the entire hoax video. The filmmakers, while applying for funding, never specified that they were creating a hoax video, but only chose to reveal to NFI that the intention was to show children in war zones, according to the BBC.
The video went viral after the production team uploaded it on YouTube and sent it out on Twitter to generate a debate.
The revelation that the video was a hoax has sparked criticism regarding the ethical implications of deliberately posting a fake video, featuring children in war zones.
A scathing statement from Human Rights Watch noted: "By releasing a fake video, Klevberg has made it easier for war criminals to dismiss credible images of abuse."
"More broadly, his deception helps erode the public's trust in war reporting. Future videos and articles on atrocities may be summarily dismissed when the situation deserves exactly the opposite: critical attention and outrage."
The HRW noted the fake video has only achieved a short-term goal, but it has damaged the "confidence in professional reporting and war crimes documentation that is done with care and consideration for the facts."
Brian Whelan @brianwhelanhack
Thanks to Lars Klevberg's folly, lots of people asking 'how many other news reports are faked?' - He spurs cynicism, not critical viewing.
Tyler Jess Thompson @TylerThompsonDC
a-hole of the day award" goes to Norwegian director Lars Klevberg. Assad snipers do target kids in real life
Mitchell Prothero @mitchprothero
please let there be a law in Norway under which Lars Klevberg can be sued for fraud and forced to return the money:
Another user @MidEasternist
Lars Klevberg, the Norwegian filmmaker who filmed "hero boy", has done a huge disservice to #Syria's children.