St Clair Township is investigating after posts on the fire chief’s personal social media accounts seemed to promote violence to get rid of the Liberal government.
Monday, users on Twitter flagged the personal account of Fire Chief Walt Anderson under a National Post story about protestors following the Prime Minister around on the campaign trail. There were photos depicting the hanging of Justin Trudeau – photos which the Conservative Leader, Erin O’Toole, condemned. Under the post, Anderson’s feed said “Time for Canadians to stand up if that means violence so be it.”
Online, people questioned the exchange. “Walt Anderson wow, your comment is basically telling people to provoke violence when needed. Hopefully, you do not have a lot of followers,” wrote Doug Hunter. Another identified Anderson as the director of emergency services for St. Clair.
Another post from Anderson’s Twitter account urged protestors to keep up the pressure on Trudeau.
By the noon hour, Anderson was warning his followers, he might have been hacked. The mayor says he started getting calls about the social media posts almost immediately.
“I was in the loop from a lot of people seem to come apart at once. And so I talked to the CEO immediately, they were going to launch an investigation,” says Arnold.
However the mayor isn’t prepared to say Anderson was behind the tweets. “I also talked to the chief and I still maintain that he was being impersonated. But that’s just me.”
That is what the chief, in an email to The Independent said as well. “I was notified actually by the Mayor of the tweet and some Facebook posts that were put out,” says the chief. “I contacted the providers to see what accounts they were posted on and to have the accounts deleted.”
By press time, Anderson’s personal Facebook and Twitter accounts had been deleted, although screenshots of the offending tweets were circulating on Twitter.
And Anderson stepped away from the comments adding “I think Canadians do have to get out and vote if they want change but I wouldn’t promote violence in doing it.”
A scan of Anderson’s personal Facebook feed before it was scrubbed showed several posts criticizing the current government including one which seems to compare Trudeau with Adolf Hitler and Karl Marx.
Social media users scoffed at the idea the accounts were hacked by another person and the chief was impersonated. But the number of hacking events, particularly on social media, is on the rise according to McAfee, one of the biggest malware software providers. It says recent surveys show up to 22 per cent of internet users said their online accounts have been hacked at least once.
It is not clear how long the investigation into the comments will take with the mayor saying little about it because it is a personnel issue.