The ongoing debate about whether fluoride should be returned to Hamilton's water supply has taken a bizarre and sinister twist, with a fake Facebook account set up in the name of a senior Waikato District Health Board worker.
Medical officer of health Felicity Dumble has been "cloned" on the social media website. The fake Felicity has been posting abusive messages on the health board's own Facebook page.
One expletive-laden and grammatically poor posting threatens the health board staff with being lined up and shot - or, as the poster puts it, "pop a cap in your b.... ass".
The tirade has left health board bosses less than impressed and prompted them to block all comments to their Facebook page and inform the police of the threat.
Health board communications director Mary Anne Gill said the abuse reinforced the decision the board made earlier this week not to have any of its staff attend a meeting on fluoridation on September 30 organised by the Council.
"We recognise this may be someone on the fringe of the debate but it does show what some people will do to try to discredit our health professionals," she said.
"It's a shame because there was some great discussion happening on the page and some genuine inquiries around water fluoridation."
The fake Felicity Dumble page was one of two created with the other using her name and a bag of chemicals as the profile picture.
"Our Facebook page is also used for other health messages, recruitment and in addition members of the public often publicly thank our staff for the care they've received.
"It is disappointing we've had to do this. But we simply can't have our staff being abused or threatened."
One top of that, an "anti-fluoride" activist was evicted from the hospital last night after he was caught skateboarding around the campus putting skull and crossbones stickers over top of the DHB's "Vote yes" to fluoride signs.
Fluoride Free Hamilton organiser Pat McNair said she was appalled by the faker's tactics saying her network of supporters did not condone any abusive or threatening actions at all.
"We are always very careful to stay within the bounds of propriety, decency, politeness and respect at all times."
"I have no idea at all who this impersonator is. I do not know anyone who would be capable of such an act.
"I would be very surprised if this person was an anti-fluoridationist as this action looks like it is deliberately intended to discredit us. Especially in light of the DHB's recent accusations.
"We take no responsibility whatsoever for this person's actions. We believe this person is either a generic Facebook nutter, just out to cause trouble, or a plant with the deliberate intention to discredit the anti-fluoride movement."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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