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Creating a Fake Ad Campaign to Support a False News

  • An image of a fake poster with the official Swiss Federal Government logo and a phone number has been circulating on social media.
  • The poster shows a supposed call from the Swiss Federal Government to denounce people who heat their homes too much. The message reads, “Does your neighbor heat his apartment to over 19 degrees? Please let us know.”
  • The telephone number given leads to the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (UVEK). The fake poster also promises a reward of 200 francs.
  • The image of the fake poster is a montage of two stock images. The logo of the Federal Government and the phone number of the UVEK have been added later.
  • It is believed to be of Russian origin, as Russian channels shared the image first, primarily on the Telegram chat service.

This image of the fake poster was shared widely on various social media profiles, including Russian accounts. Earlier this month, the Russian TV channel RT had also spread the false news that heating above 19 degrees was already a punishable offense in Switzerland. Followed, on September 10, by the Belarusian news agency, Belta reported on its Telegram channel about the alleged call from the Federal Government.

Also, one of the Twitter accounts that shared early this image “does a lot of scaremongering about gas prices, deflecting attention from the fact Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a key driver of this.

The Federal Government is distancing itself from the fake campaign and launched an investigation: “The Federal Government has nothing to do with this call and distances itself from it in all its forms. The Federal Government logo and phone number featured in the image were misused.” Uvek says there are no such federal posters or corresponding calls.

This is, of course, not the first time that the Russian propaganda machine manipulate images in order to support its narrative in Ukraine and the false news it had already created and reported across its media. This is an excellent example of Russian information operations that aim to spread fears in Europe about rising energy costs following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Check out our post on the Free Fake News Generator tools to understand how such manipulative posters can easily be done as well as the online service on the dark web to spread fake news and manipulate polls in order to understand how this image went viral.

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