FactCheck Social Media

Time’s up on Daniel Andrews fall date ‘conspiracy’

2021-06-11 18:43:49

The Statement

Social media posts suggest there is a conspiracy involving the media reporting the time and day of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ fall, which left the state leader seriously injured.

A June 8 Facebook post features two screenshots: an ABC News article detailing the news that the premier had been admitted to hospital after a fall, and an Ambulance Victoria statement providing details of the related ambulance response.

The timestamp on the ABC article identifies it was purportedly published on March 8, while the Ambulance Victoria statement lists the date an ambulance was called for Mr Andrews as March 9.

These two dates are circled in red, with the post’s text claiming: “Daniel Andrews official statement and the official statement of Ambulance Victoria are not in agreement about the time and day an ambulance was called. The Victorian people deserve to be told the truth.”

Related claims have been shared elsewhere on Facebook (see here and here), with a similar post that features a screenshot of a time-stamped Guardian Australia article including the caption: “So the media can predict the future now?”

A Facebook post
 Social media users are claiming a cover-up around the time and day of the Victorian premier ‘s fall. 

The Analysis

Claims that news articles “predicted” Daniel Andrews’ fall a day earlier than it was confirmed by ambulance officials are wrong – and are based on an incorrect or intentionally misleading interpretation of the articles’ timestamps.

The Victorian premier released a statement on March 9 revealing he had been admitted to hospital with “several broken ribs and vertebrae damage” after “slipping and falling on wet and slippery stairs”.

The premier has been on leave since the fall and is expected to return to work in June, acting premier James Merlino has said. Nevertheless, Mr Andrews’ extended absence has led to Opposition politicians demanding the premier answer a list of questions about the circumstances surrounding the fall, which has been the subject of various unfounded conspiracy theories online.

In response to the questions, Ambulance Victoria released a media statement on June 8, with the permission of the premier, that included information about the ambulance response to Mr Andrews’ fall.

The statement initially incorrectly listed the date of the incident as Monday, March 9. That date fell on a Tuesday, not a Monday as stated. Ambulance Victoria later corrected the day to Tuesday. The mistake was also highlighted on Twitter at the time.

The social media posts placed the ambulance statements alongside screenshots of news reports from the ABC and The Guardian purportedly showing the dates of their initial reports as March 8.

However, the screenshot of the Guardian article shared in the Facebook posts lists the user’s time zone as Eastern Standard Time (EST), used in parts of North and Central America.

Both the ABC News and Guardian articles were first published on March 9, 2021, when viewed from a computer or device set to Australian time. The Guardian’s article has a timestamp of 2:50pm, Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT), while the ABC article includes a timestamp of 8:36am.

Similar times are reflected in the first tweets from the ABC and The Guardian carrying the news.

When converted to EST, both dates shift to March 8 – and match the timestamps shown in the Facebook posts.

Using the example of the ABC article, AAP FactCheck set a computer’s time zone to EST – which resulted in the article’s date stamp changing from March 9 to March 8.

In response to questions on Twitter over the timing of The Guardian story, its author, Josh Taylor, wrote: “Whoever took the screenshot to share is looking at the US EST time of publication, I think, not AU. So it looks like it is the day before.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews
 Daniel Andrews was taken to hospital on March 9 after he fell while getting ready for work. 

The Verdict

The screenshots of ABC and Guardian news articles in the Facebook post do not show the articles were written one day before Daniel Andrews’ fall reportedly occurred on March 9. The time screenshots’ timestamps reflect the stories as viewed from a different time zone.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

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