Operation ‘Cat Cover’ Aids Police in Anti-Terrorist Maneuver
While Belgian police attempted to track down terrorists they believed to be involved in the Paris attacks, they made a request to citizens not to tweet about any witnessed police movements.
With the metro stations shut, and all schools closed as the operation got under way, there was a worry amongst police that citizens with little else to do could potentially give away their positions to the terrorists via social media. With the hashtag ‘#BrusselsLockdown’ already established for the event, police movement could easily be shared by anyone, and attempts to capture the terrorists botched.
Enter the cats. Rather that abandon the social media entirely, many citizens thought it better to leave something in the twitterfeed for curious terrorists to see. In a movement refereed to as ‘cat cover’ hundreds and thousands of people all over the world used the #BrusselsLockdown hashtag not to report on police movement but to share funny pictures of cats.
After Defence Minister Steven Vandeput tweeted that “police are asking the public not to report their movements on social media, please support and RT”, in wasn’t long before the first cat-based reply came in from a Dutch cameraman names Hugo Janssen, who tweeted”instead of tweets about police activity in Brussels, here’s a picture of our cat Mozart”.
The tweet sparked a worldwide trend that over-flooded twitter with cats. One user wrote: “I think in one hour I’ve seen more #lolcats than I’ve seen in the rest of my life”.
Another added: “To be fair, the very possible idea of angry, confused terrorists scrolling through the #BrusselsLockdown hashtag is making me quite happy right now”.
While some users didn’t receive police memo and tweeed about the actual lock-down, the cat happy twitter users were quick to drown out their tweets with a barrage of more cats.
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.
Asked not to tweet details of anti-terrorism raids, Belgians tweet things like this instead: #BrusselsLockdown pic.twitter.com/wY1ft3KLUj
— max seddon (@maxseddon) November 22, 2015