Police in Riga are on the hunt for an unidentified individual, who has been putting up posters that consist of false information about an infestation of poisonous spiders in the Latvian capital
Authorities in Latvia are warning against the spread of fake news after a series of posters about an infestation of deadly spiders appeared around the capital, Riga.
The country's health inspectorate released a statement on Monday to confirm it had played no part in the creation or distribution of the official-looking posters. The posters, one of which can be seen below, advises Latvians to call the emergency services should one of the described spiders be seen.
According to the poster, these specific spiders have become poisonous due to reasons which include climate change.
Local police launched an investigation to find the creator and distributor of the posters. Rigan police later released CCTV footage showing the offender in action on its Twitter account. The penalty carries a fine of up to 7,000 euros.
Is there any truth to the posters' claims?
While Latvians were assured the posters were not disseminated by an official government body, some were still asking whether the information on the posters carried any weight. The University of Latvia said it had consulted the head of its biology faculty, who had confirmed that the described spiders can not be found in Latvia, and, even if they were, they are not harmful to humans.
Latvians on social media generally reacted to the incidents in jest. A Facebook user said they did not find the situation worrying, but they were still interested to know who, or what would put so much energy into this idea. "I have two suggestions," he says. "Spider-man or Dr Evil."
Other Facebook users reassured friends that now the posters were confirmed as fake, they could "sleep peacefully".
However, some Latvian Facebook users were less amused. "This is no joke, it's a crime," the following user wrote. "This foolish action potentially overwhelms the rescue service by preventing them from working real-time emergency situations. The penalty is too soft."