Sunday 22 September 2019

#BrusselsLockdown trends as users share cat pictures instead of police movement

Clare Cullen

Brussels police asked citizens not to share their movements on social media in an effort to capture a number of suspects they believed were involved in the attacks on Paris.

Belgian users took to Twitter instead and shared cat pictures with the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown to ensure that no information pertaining to the anti-terrorism operation would be found online.

Belgian Twitter users politely complied - but decided that silence wasn't quite as appealing as misdirection.

The movement, being referred to as 'cat cover', saw people across the world join in the fun by sharing their cat pictures.

Defence Minister Steven Vandeput has tweeted that "police are asking the public not to report their movements on social media, please support and RT". The first cat-based reply is believed to have come from a Dutch cameraman Hugo Janssen, who tweeted back "instead of tweets about police activity in Brussels, here's a picture of our cat Mozart".

The tweet sparked a trend which is trending worldwide this morning as people around the world  hopped on the bandwagon.

One user wrote "I think in one hour I've seen more #lolcats than I've seen in the rest of my life".

Another write "To be fair, the very possible idea of angry, confused terrorists scrolling through the #BrusselsLockdown hashtag is making me quite happy right now".

Sentiment online was overwhelminly positive, with one user writing "Amis Belges, new changez rien <3".

While some users missed the memo, the majority ensured that any tweets actually related to the Lockdown were buried in a avalanche of cat pictures. (A catalanche?)

Prosecutors' office spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told a press conference that "The federal prosecutor and the police services must thank the press and social media users for taking into account the needs of the ongoing operation" as he announced sixteen successful arrests.

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