Swedish vaccine website accidentally uses ‘Hide the Pain Harold’ meme as promo pic

Authorities said they were unaware of the meme and later took down the picture

Shweta Sharma@Ss22Shweta
Thursday 01 April 2021 11:16
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<p>A screenshot shows a part of a government website where Swedes can book Covid-19 vaccinations, featuring the man from the ‘Hide the Pain Harold’</p>

A screenshot shows a part of a government website where Swedes can book Covid-19 vaccinations, featuring the man from the ‘Hide the Pain Harold’

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Sweden’s health officials got a crash course in online meme culture after they unwittingly used a well-known viral stock image to promote a Covid-19 vaccination drive.

Unfortunately for those trying to encourage people to take their jabs, the image in question is of a Hungarian man forcing a smile that is known online as the “Hide the Pain Harold” meme.

“Harold” was being used alongside an announcement that the Stockholm region was expanding its vaccination drive to include all residents over the age of 75 at the weekend.

The meme image was swiftly taken down from the website after it was spotted by amused social media users, to prevent it from sending a “misleading or inappropriate” message to the people.

“We did not know it was a meme until we noticed this. But of course, we have made sure to change the picture now,” Hanna Fellenius, a spokeswoman for the Stockholm authorities told Reuters.

Ms Fellenius said they came to know it was a meme when someone sent an email to the editorial staff.

However, the corrective measure appeared to have come too late, with internet users already joking about the gaffe and saying it’s nice “Harold” is doing his bit for Sweden’s vaccination drive.

Meme-famous “Harold” is actually a Hungarian man named Andras Arato. Mr Arato recently appeared in several interviews where he said he posed for the stock photos some time ago and it took nine years for him to discover he was famous online.

A regional health agency said it didn’t think the image had done any lasting damage to public confidence in Covid jabs.

“Our assessment is that the publication for a few hours of an image that is not in itself misleading or inappropriate does not damage confidence in the Covid-19 vaccinations,” it said.

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