The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

‘Snitch on your neighbor’ fake poster causes panic in Switzerland

  • By Paige Baschuk
  • 12 September 2022

Days after the Swiss government announced it is considering punishing residents who heat their homes above 19 degrees C (66.2 F) with up to three years’ jail time, a campaign urging the Swiss to tattletale on their neighbors who violate the new rules went viral.

‘Snitch on your neighbor’ fake poster causes panic in Switzerland

This photo has been circulating around Switzerland for the past 48 hours or so.

Over the weekend a photo of a poster began popping up all over Swiss social media, especially among those using messaging services Signal and Telegram. The poster features a woman on her cell phone with the message (in German) “Does the neighbor heat their apartment over 19 degrees? Please inform us.” The poster includes a phone number and an insignia suggesting that the message was approved by the federal government.

Except, it wasn’t.

“There are no such federal posters, nor do we call for people to be exposed,” Simone Hug, a federal Energy Department official, told Swiss publication 20 Minuten. Moreover, the poster does not seem to be posted anywhere in Switzerland. It’s simply an image made to look like it already has been fixed in public spaces.

When one conducts a google reverse image search of the supposed poster on freepik, the image is simply listed as “blank billboard mockup.” Hug says the government is investigating who created the hoax and the ensuing panic it has garnered.

‘Snitch on your neighbor’ fake poster causes panic in Switzerland

The Swiss have been hoarding wood in droves, so they can heat their homes without answering to the government about energy consumption this winter.

The Swiss government has been working overtime since the image started circulating, because unfortunately for them, many residents believed (and still do) that the campaign is real. This is likely because the actual restrictions for this winter are the most extreme deterrents Switzerland has ever proposed in the name of energy conservation.

A more realistic approach to the problem may be fining residents about 30 CHF per day, with a maximum fine of 3,000 CHF for those who deliberately ignore the regulations, according to Markus Sporndli, the Federal Department of Finance’s spokesperson. The hope is that if enough residents conserve energy this winter, Switzerland will be able to avoid rolling, regional blackouts. (Read more: ‘Population will rebel’ Swiss police say of looming energy crisis).

And while residents wait to see which punishments may become their reality, the question remains: Will the government check up on those who are ratted out by their neighbors?

They will, according to a government spokesperson. And “if the infringement was reported and checked and could be proven,” the Swiss police will take action.

Even if neighbors refuse to snitch, the government may begin random, spot checks to ensure that residents are in compliance with the new law, according to Economics Minister Guy Parmelin.

A new layer – one that includes secrecy and acrimony – has just been added to the forecast that Switzerland will endure a long, cold winter over the next few months.

This article may be freely shared and re-printed, provided that it prominently links back to the original article.

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