Authorities in Switzerland have launched an investigation into the spread of a fake poster on the internet calling on the country’s citizens to report their neighbors who overheat their homes. According to an expert, this may be part of Russian disinformation campaigns, Reuters reported.
Pictures of a purported poster with a young woman talking on the phone and the question: “Does your neighbor have the heating set to more than 19 degrees Celsius? Please contact us.”
A reward of 200 Swiss francs (207 euros) was announced below the photo, which also featured the Swiss government emblem and the phone number of the federal ministry for the environment, transport, energy and communications.
The ministry said the poster was a fake and launched an investigation.
“The federal government has nothing to do with this appeal and officially dissociates itself from it. There are no such posters of the federal government, nor such demands, it is clearly a matter of manipulation,” the communique said.
Mark Owen Jones, an associate professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, suggested the image may be related to Russian propaganda trying to spread fears about rising energy costs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This is a photoshopped photo, and a pretty good one at that,” tweeted Jones, who studies how social media is used to spread misinformation.
One Twitter user, who posted the image, “stirs up a lot of fear about gas prices by deflecting attention from the fact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the main cause. However, the news was also spread by pro-Russians, linked to Russia or official Russian accounts,” Jones said.