-- A YouTube video rapidly going viral has users questioning whether the footage of street harassment is real or a stunt capitalizing on the buzz created by another viral video about catcalling.
The new video, titled "Drunk Girl in Public (Social Experiment)," has gained more than 3 million views, the majority in just the past 24 hours.
In the four-minute video, an actress pretends to be drunk in public to see whether men will help her get on a bus to get home. None of the five men shown on the video help her get home, but instead try to steer the seemingly drunk woman to their homes before she cheerily "sobers up" and walks off.
Almost immediately the commenters on the YouTube site started to question if the footage was real or if the men were actors. YouTube users, as well as Huffington Post UK, point out that the men's faces are not blurred, leading many to believe the men are actors or aware of the camera. It is also unclear whether the video is connected to any social or women's group aimed at stopping harassment.
The "Drunk Girl In Public (Social Experiment)" video was posted on Nov. 8 by Stephen Zhang, the 20-year-old CEO of Hygo Inc., a company focused on search-engine optimization and creating viral social media marketing, according to its website. Zhang's personal logo appears throughout the video.
Zhang and Hygo, which is based in Berkeley, California, did not respond to calls and emails from ABC News seeking an interview, except for an email from Zhang saying he might comment eventually. Zhang has not responded to follow-up emails.
On Zhang's Facebook page he posted a link to the video on Nov. 9 with the comment, "We went out to Hollywood Blvd to see how guys would treat a drunk young woman out on the streets."
Zhang has three other videos on his YouTube channel that appear to focus on "pranking" people around southern California. None of those videos have reached more than 21,000 views.
Many users and online commentators have compared the "Drunk Girl In Public (Social Experiment)" to another video documenting a woman being catcalled more than 100 times as she walks the street of New York.
However, one huge difference between the two videos is the creators behind them. The catcalling video was created by the New York anti-harassment group Hollaback!, which explained why the footage was taken and its goal behind it. That video amassed more than 35 million hits and sparked dozens of international headlines.
Jaclyn Friedman, founder and executive director of the nonprofit group Women, Action and the Media, said viral videos can spark important discussion about how women are treated, but that Zhang's video needs more context and could create a skewed picture.
"Provocation just for the sake of provocation, it creates a lot of noise that drowns out the signal," Friedman said. "Without any other context this video looks like it was designed just to provoke. It can be counterproductive."
Friedman said videos that want to start a conversation about harassment need to be transparent so that people do not feel tricked. She questioned whether the men in the video knew they were being filmed, whether the people who created the video had been affected by the problem, and what kind of footage could have been edited out to create a skewed picture.
Friedman said rather than just reacting to these videos, people should watch them with "media literacy" and ask "what else happens to this woman?"
"What is the agenda of the people who produced this?" Friedman asked. "None of these things are apparent."