Fake Social Media Post Warning Of Terrorist Plot "Designed To Create Fear", Warn Police


As Sydney tries to come to terms with a shocking tragedy, police are warning residents not to be fooled by social media hoaxes designed to cause alarm and spread false information about unspecified terrorism threats.

NSW Police this morning issued a statement confirming that a viral social media post prophesising a New Year’s Eve terrorist attack in Sydney’s CBD was a hoax, apparently intended to provoke fear among the city’s nervous residents.

Variations of the post claim to recount a story of a friend or family member finding a lost wallet and returning it to a man who “looked like” a member of ISIS.

As the story goes, the man then warns the family member not to visit Sydney on New Years Eve or Christmas.

Variations of the post have been doing the rounds on social media for some time, and New Matilda saw one version posted as long as two months ago.

But police have assured residents the post is fake.

“A hoax is circulating about a wallet being found and a person who comes to collect the wallet warning about 'something bad' happening in #Sydney on New Year's Eve or Christmas,’ the NSW Police Force said on its facebook page.

“Police have received no such reports. We believe the message has been designed to create fear in the community.”

“Please share this hoax alert – don't share the hoax. Anyone who has information about possible signs of terrorism in Australia is urged to call the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00.”

The message seems to be getting out, with the police response trending on twitter in Sydney.

Social media has played a complex role in the siege of the Martin Place Lindt store, with hostage taker Man Haron Monis apparently trying to leverage Facebook and Youtube to get his message out.

Hostages were forced to record videos relaying the gunman’s requests and write posts on their personal accounts after most media outlets and journalists refused to broadcast the messages.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.