A French tourist named Natalie Amyot didn’t get impregnated and post a YouTube video to track down the Australian father, despite her viral video saying otherwise.
Days after Amyot posted her video searching for the baby’s father, saying she met the man while on vacation, lost her phone with his number, found out she was pregnant and returned to Australia to track him down, a follow-up video admitting it was just a marketing hoax was posted. That video admitted that the original video was a “viral video” to promote Holiday Mooloolaba, a vacation accommodations company for Mooloolaba, Australia.
Andy Sellar from the social media company, Sunny Coast Social Media, said the woman was “just an actress” and confirmed to iMediaEthics she was not involved in the planning.
Sellar told iMediaEthics this was the first marketing stunt the company had done “on such a large scale, yes, but we specialise in online viral advertising for companies.”
iMediaEthics asked if any news outlets contacted the actress or him through the video or YouTube to fact check or learn more about the video and case before reporting. Sellar said, via e-mail, no.
“Looking at the situation here in Australia, the fact not a lot of viral advertising is done and in such a sleepy town as Mooloolaba, I thought it could get traction and reach a few viewers….I didn’t know it would [go] global!” Sellar added to iMediaEthics.
Australia’s ABC Media Watch, a media criticism program, reported on the media being duped by the “fairy tale” story, citing unskeptical coverage from Australia’s Channel Seven and Channel Ten.
“Did anyone check if Natalie’s remarkable story was true?” Media Watch questioned. “Well one or two tried, but most obeyed the modern media dictum, which is, file first, ask questions later.”
The Washington Post noted “there were signs that something was off” with the initial video. “Pre-roll ads suggest someone was making money off the clicks, and Amyot gratuitously name-drops a number of Sunshine Coast establishments,” it reported.
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iMediaEthics collected below some of the many stories on the original video.
Time magazine updated its Sept. 1 story to read: “This article has been revised to reflect that the video was a marketing stunt.”
Metro posted an “update” on its story “French Woman releases YouTube Video to Find Australian one night stand” that reads: “This has been revealed as a hoax.”
The Brisbane Times posted the story “Help me find him: pregnant French tourist seeks Sunshine Coast lover.”
Fox News published the story “Pregnant French tourist makes public plea for mystery lover she meet on vacation in Mooloolaba.”
ITV posted the story “French woman makes YouTube video to find Australian she claims got her pregnant.”
The Daily Mail published the story, “‘I just want to see him again… if he says no then OK’; Young French tourist who posted a video looking for the Australian man she says she fell pregnant to in a one-night stand tearfully defends herself against online skeptics.”
Ask Men updated its story twice, first to note that “this is looking more and more like a semi-catfishing (kittenfishing?) prank” and then to confirm it was a hoax.