Why People Are Sharing Cat Images After The Terror Attacks In Spain

It's all well-intentioned.

Clever social media users across the globe are sharing words of encouragement for Spaniards attached to images of cats online, a curious but purposeful tactic to combat terrorism following yesterday's terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. 

It's not the first time images of cats have been widely dispersed in the wake of a terror attack, and while it the posts may seem strange in context, they are part of a larger strategy. Users say by flooding social media with cat images, they both prevent the bloody images of victims being spread online — which may empower terrorists — and they make it harder for suspects to track updates about the attack.

"We will post cute cat photos so that the murderers do not exploit the blood spilled and the pain caused," the user Pilibc22 wrote.

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As Newsweek reported, in the wake of the 2015 attacks in Paris, Belgian authorities were on lockdown and asked social media users to refrain from tweeting or posting information they had gathered about the investigation. By not spreading information about the investigation online, counterterrorism officials felt their chances of successfully finding the attackers went up.

Spanish officials have declared two attacks in Spain — one in Barcelona and another about 60 miles away in the coastal town of Cambrils  — as terror attacks. Four suspects have been captured and five more were killed in a shootout with police. The Barcelona attack, which killed 13 people, was the worst attack in Spain in over a decade. 

"Much strength Barcelona ❤ avoid sharing information that can alert the culprits," another user wrote.

Since the attacks, several hashtags have started trending in support of the victims. #FuerzaBarcelona, #BarcelonaStrength and #TodosConBarcelona were all widely shared throughout Thursday and Friday.

Cover photo: Shutterstock / andrewpotter4

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