Cats take over social media in response to terrorist lockdown

Posted on November 30, 2015


The recent curfew in Belgium took a surreal turn when social media users, who were advised not to tip off terrorists online, flooded Twitter news feeds with images of cats instead.

The hashtag #BrusselsLockdown was hijacked by users who chose to portray innocent felines in funny situations, such as holding up their paws as if surrendering to police, and looking out of windows in defiance of official warnings to steer clear from them.

Within hours of the trend, Eric Van Der Syp, the federal prosecutor, issued a statement thanking social media users “because they took the need of this operation into account”.

The federal police even got in on the act and showed it had a sense of humour despite the seriousness of the current situation, and tweeted a picture of a food dish full to the brim with cat treats with the text:

“For the cats that came to our aid last evening… Serve yourself!”

Some commentators proclaimed the trend as a show of solidarity, and a way to lighten the tense mood in the city. Finn Brunton, New York University’s professor of media, culture and communication and author of Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest argued that it was a way to drown out anyone who wished to break the social media silence. He said:

“The beauty of the public response was that it recognized this as the challenge.

“And instead of everyone being quiet, people flooded the hashtag with this sort of charming and strange and basically innocuous material, such that even if someone tried to violate the ban, they wouldn’t get anything out of it.”


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