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Last week, a Missouri State student named Sydney Arlt posted a video of a near-empty decorated classroom and a very sad looking professor with the caption, “My professor threw a party instead of having a final and no one showed up.”
My professor threw a party instead of having a final and no one showed up😢💔 pic.twitter.com/knwS3xDfmM
— Sydney (@sydneyarlt) December 5, 2018
The video quickly went viral. It was viewed more than 7.79 million times and retweeted more than 70,000 times. People felt bad for the professor since no one showed up to his party.
“THIS IS SO SAD,” YouTuber Gabi Demartino tweeted.
THIS IS SO SAD
— gabi demartino (@gabcake) December 7, 2018
“Omg he even sprung for caramel delights. This professor deserves better!” someone else said.
Omg he even sprung for caramel delights. This professor deserves better!
— Anna Feeler (@A_feelyfeels) December 6, 2018
The next day, the Missouri State Twitter account retweeted the video saying they cared about the professor. A lot.
The professor, Andrew Cline, saw the tweet and decided it was time to come clean. He admitted the video was fake and the student posted it as an assignment for his class to “go viral.”
“I am gratified by all the well-wishes. But… This video was made as part of an assignment in MED130. It is fake (many clues). The point of the assignment is to ‘go viral’ in order to study viralness—especially as it plays on the emotions in the emotional medium of video,” he said.
I am gratified by all the well-wishes. But… This video was made as part of an assignment in MED130. It is fake (many clues). The point of the assignment is to "go viral" in order to study viralness — especially as it plays on the emotions in the emotional medium of video. https://t.co/ouwPg3mpg6
— Andrew R. Cline PhD (@arcline) December 6, 2018
Cline wasn’t expecting his students to actually go viral. He intended to teach the lesson about the challenges of going viral, but one group actually pulled it off. He instead learned that most people aren’t exercising critical judgment as much as he’d like to see.
“People are manipulated emotionally by things they’re seeing every day by people who are paid a lot of money to do that. As a nation, we need to wise up,” he told BuzzFeed News.
Arlt told BuzzFeed News that she’s learned “people are really easy to manipulate” and that “people get upset when they learn they’ve been manipulated — even in a very lighthearted manner.”
The group also obviously passed the assignment with an A.
Gabrielle Sorto is an Atlanta-based freelance writer covering culture, lifestyle, and news. Her work has appeared in CNN, Teen Vogue, INSIDER, and Vice. She can usually be found writing with an overpriced coffee in hand or hanging out with her dog, Rihanna, who is named after exactly who you think.