01/08/2014 11:45 BST | Updated 01/08/2014 12:59 BST

German Students Sing To a 'Homeless' Man And Are Bombarded With Abuse

Those fierce internet critics have been at it again. The target this week: a group of German students who videoed themselves singing to a 'homeless' man.

The video sees one student approach the homeless man asking if he can use his bucket as a drum. His friends sit down to join him while they sing a song. The man appears rather bemused and slightly uncomfortable being given this attention. A group of onlookers gather around and smile in enjoyment. Once the song is over, the crowd disperses, the bucket is given back and the group of students walk off into the distance. The video now has more than 12 million hits on YouTube

What a happy, thoughtful, kind gesture, no? What a lovely way to cheer up a homeless man's day and raise awareness. Thousands of internet trolls don't seem to think so.

The problem is the 'homeless' man was in actual fact an actor. While the video's description stated this, many have slammed the German trio, calling them "attention seeking rich kids" "objectifying" the marginalized and needy.

german students quote

german students quote

The trio have now openly apologised: "If we have hurt or disappointed anyone, we are very sorry. Of course that was not our intention".

Other critics have stated they understand the intentions of the video but don't understand the use of a 'fake' homeless man. In response, the students stated:

"Before filming we asked ourselves the following question: Can we simply film a person in distress and put it up on the internet, without asking them or knowing their history? Our answer is quite clearly no, which is why we have hired an actor to take on this role".

Amongst the negativity, others have viewed the video as positive and up lifting.

german students positive

The trio stand by their video and actions and continue to raise money for their non-profit organisation.