A video showing a female cyclist in London pulling a wing mirror off a van after one of the vehicle's occupants made sexist comments at her may be fake, the company that uploaded it to Facebook yesterday has admitted.
The video, which received more than 10 million views on the Viral Thread Facebook page but has since been removed, was widely reported today on both mainstream and specialist news outlets today, including road.cc.
As the story went viral, however, the focus quickly switched to claims that the incident depicted in the footage had been staged.
The Mirror reported social media user Kareem Naaman as saying: "This is fake and was filmed by actors. Mate of mine saw it all being filmed. Not sure who or why, but interested to find out what it was for."
Scott Deane, a builder, told the Sun that he had seen the video, shot in an around London's Tottenham Court Road, being made.
He said: "I was across the road having a break and I saw this very attractive girl with a bike talking to a blonde guy who was giving her instructions.
“Then three guys dressed in orange site clothes turned up in a van and the blonde bloke was giving them instructions, too.
“He was telling the girl: ‘You need to ride behind the van aggressively'."
The Viral Thread Facebook page is owned by an east London-based company called Jungle Creations.
The business produces its own viral content, as well as hosting and licencing material on behalf of third parties. Besides earning advertising revenue through its own social media channels such as Facebook, it also charges media outlets who wish to use its content themselves.
When approached by the Guardian earlier today, it quoted the newspaper £400 if it wanted to host the video in its own media player, and £150 on its social media channels.
Jungle Creations insists it did not make the video itself, with a spokesman saying in response to claims that the footage was staged: "The syndication arm ofJungle Creations asked the content creator for verification that this incident was true and they received this confirmation."
But this afternoon, the company admitted in a statement that correct vetting procedures had not been followed and as good as confirmed that the footage was, in all likelihood, flase.
It said: "It has come to our attention that a video distributed on our Facebook channel Viral Thread on February 21, 2017 may be factually incorrect.
"Contrary to reports, we want to make clear that we were in no way involved in the making or production of this video.
"The video was received from a third-party content provider and it was distributed on Viral Thread under the impression that it portrayed real-life events.
"We rigorously vet all content received from third parties to ascertain its credibility, but unfortunately our usual high standards were not met on this video.
"We are committed to ensuring and protecting the integrity of content on our channels and take matters of this nature extremely seriously. We’ve since started an internal investigation to make sure it doesn’t happen again."
Viral Thread was founded in 2014 by university graduate Jamie Bolding when he moved back to his mother's house in Surrey after graduating from university.
According to BBC News, his Jungle Creations business, which owns several social media channels, made him £2.5 million last year through viral hits such as the Camembert Hedgehog Bread video, which has been watched more than 22 million times and shared by almost 300,000 people on another of his Facebook pages, Twisted Food Social.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.