December 6, 2019

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Mayoral hopeful posts false meme about HSC emergency room

No naked man hanging from ceiling in Winnipeg hospital last night

Mayoral candidate Tim Diack, a police constable, said it's his fault he tweeted out an internet meme Thursday and represented it as a naked guy hanging from the ceiling in the Health Sciences Centre.

He thought it was true.

The photograph in Diack's tweet has been floating around on the internet for at least seven years — it's been used in a meme about being a nurse — and it is not verified. </p>

The photograph in Diack's tweet has been floating around on the internet for at least seven years — it's been used in a meme about being a nurse — and it is not verified.

Diack, a 30-year Winnipeg Police Service member, posted on his Twitter account a photograph of a naked man hanging upside down from exposed pipes in a room that appeared to have a nurse in it. The man's genital area and his eyes had black bars across them.

The problem is that it isn't true. No naked guy was hanging from the rafters at the Health Sciences Centre on Wednesday night.

Diack said the photo was on his Twitter account for about 30 minutes before it was removed.

"Even though I'm highly motivated and angry (about issues), I should make sure that I verify the picture before (posting)," said Diack, 52. "I'm taking 100 per cent responsibility. That's not a tweet team (choosing to post it). That's one angry old cop that's tired of the way things are going."

He said his tweet came from his passion about issues surrounding the state of emergency rooms in Winnipeg and the perils faced by front-line workers.

The tweet included text which read, "HSC emergency last night. Would you like to be there with a loved one?" along with a number of hashtags, including #wpgmethcrisis.

The photograph has been floating around on the internet for at least seven years — it's been used in a meme about being a nurse — and it is not verified. It may be linked to a 2011 story from New Zealand about a naked man in hospital who was trying to evade police.

"It was sent to me through a source, and I sent it to my tweet team and I said, 'You know what, here's the narrative that I would like attached to this.' The narrative hasn't changed. Somebody in the tweet team said, 'I've seen this picture before,'" said Diack, adding it was then discovered that the photograph was seven years old and possibly from New Zealand.

"We took it down as soon as we determined that. It's a harsh lesson about being able to follow up on something," Diack said. "It is a harsh lesson because I should be able to verify (a photo before posting it)."

It's possibly a Photoshopped representation, since no such photo was published with archived stories available online about a similar-sounding incident in New Zealand in 2011.

Diack said the source who sent him the photo — someone who works at HSC — was told by someone else that it was a photo taken in their workplace. Diack said he thought the area looked "exactly like our HSC emergency."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

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