Supposed Super Bowl tweet gaffe spurs Ottawa Public Health to clarify ‘misinformation’

Ottawa Public Health tweeted this supposed placeholder image to congratulate the winners of Super Bowl LV on Sunday night. Ottawa Public Health / Twitter

Ottawa Public Health is using a popular Super Bowl tweet to expound on the dangers of misinformation amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The local public health unit tweeted a supposedly canned congratulations tweet to the winners of Super Bowl LV on Sunday night, but the social media editor in charge — “Bruce” — seemingly failed to swap out the placeholder text and image.

Instead of congratulating Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on their 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, the congrats went out to “(*Bruce, make sure to put the winning team’s name here)” with an “[Insert winning team logo here]” on the image backdrop.
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The now-widespread tweet led many online to both criticize and sympathize with the poor public health unit, with many sending condolences in the vein of “we’ve all been Bruce.”


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The tweet, which had been liked and retweeted thousands of times by the morning after the big game, provides a “great chance to chat about misinformation,” OPH said in a followup Twitter thread on Monday.

A few things don’t quite line up, such as the existence of the placeholder image in the first place and the fact that the tweet was sent from the Twitter web app itself and not a scheduling platform, OPH said.

It also wasn’t deleted after the fact, which one might suspect would be the first step in a social media mea culpa.

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OPH said it was touched by the “outpouring of support for dear Bruce” — who the health unit clarified is not a real person, by the way — but said the reactions to the faux gaffe reinforce the need to be critical about information presented online.

“Misinformation has consequences that go far beyond the wellbeing of ‘Bruce,’” OPH said.

OPH has regularly been using its social media accounts and other platforms to extol the efficacies of masks, physical distancing and vaccines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its website also has a page dedicated specifically to medical scams and misinformation, where it encourages Ottawa residents to trust credible sources on health and science topics.

Also, it appears bilingual Bruce made the same mistake in both official languages.

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