When Belgian police requested citizens keep silent on social media as the city faced a lock-down in the midst of terrorism alerts, they were probably not expecting the response they got.
Twitter users complied, using the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown, but in a unique way that soon went viral: by posting cat pictures.
In response to Defense Minister Steven Vandeput’s tweet, “Police are asking the public not to report their movements on social media, please support & rt #BrusselsLockdown,” social media users began posting pictures of cats rather than report on police activities, avoiding potentially tipping off targets of police raids.
Twitter users showed they would not lose their sense of humor over the terrorist threats by posting endless cat pictures and memes, eventually creating international support as the hashtag went viral.
Post cat pics, not police movements #BrusselsLockdown#BelgianSurrealismpic.twitter.com/GYfzY65Qof
— Yves-Alexandre (@yvesalexandre) November 22, 2015
Tweets soon appeared that poked fun at the threats with mock news in an attempt to bury any real intelligence that might be shared about police activity.
Residents told to stay away from windows. Not sure they got the message #BrusselsLockdownpic.twitter.com/kv3Mosk5mZ
— Matteo Albania (@m_albania) November 22, 2015
BREAKING NEWS : Belgium Police using the new 200mph Hovercat during terrorist operations #BrusselsLockdownpic.twitter.com/MnIpiOZT3x
— Jayce le Satirique (@jaycelight) November 22, 2015
Darko is using his satellite dish to track the bad guys … Almost there #BrusselsLockdownpic.twitter.com/RX4k6PAFQI
— patrick de francquen (@patje16) November 22, 2015
Users created a wave of encouragement, as well, with tweets like this from Brussels resident Gilles Bordelais.
This, dear outsiders, is how we fight terrorism here. They haven’t got a chance! We haz kittens! #BrusselsLockdownpic.twitter.com/sdq1MbrKsz
— Gilles Bordelais (@Gilles_PPDE) November 22, 2015
May the force be with us. #BrusselsLockdownpic.twitter.com/m9OuEVhfXS
— TineEeckhout (@TineEeckhout) November 22, 2015
Tweets even poked fun at the attackers.
Meanwhile, at the #BrusselsLockdown ,a suspect is seen locking themselves inside an apartment. pic.twitter.com/bQ1GOwIxEJ
— Guffers (@gavmacn) November 23, 2015
Grateful Belgian police tweeted a response Monday, posting a bowl of cat food and thanks “for the cats who helped us yesterday.”
Voor de katten die ons gisteren geholpen hebben… Alsjeblieft! #BrusselsLockdown pic.twitter.com/QlwY9EtzEZ
— Federale Politie (@FedPol_pers) November 23, 2015
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