As Switzerland takes drastic measures to reduce its gas use this winter - including fines and up to three years in prison for citizens who violate new regulations, a viral poster circulating on Swiss social media telling citizens to rat out neighbors heating their homes above 19C (66.2F) has raised eyebrows.
"Does the neighbor heat the apartment to over 19 degrees? Please inform us," reads the poster currently circulating on messaging services such as Signal and Telegram, according to Swiss media.
Except, it's fake.
According to Energy Department official, Simone Hug, the federal government has nothing to do with the poster.
"There are no such federal posters, nor do we call for people to be exposed," said Hug, who added that the government is investigating who created the hoax.
Outlet '20 Minuten' says it's easy to conduct a google reverse image of the alleged poster, where it can be found on 'freepik,' which hosts over 25 million images, and lists the template as "blank billboard mockup."
That said, the fact that so many people believed that the post was real comes as no surprise given the government's extreme measures to save energy - including the prohibition on home temperatures above 66.2F, as well as a maximum hot water temperature of 60 degrees, and to turn off saunas and swimming pools. 'Willful' violators risk three years in prison, while negligent violators face a daily penalty between 30 francs (US$31) and 3,000 francs (US$3130) and up to 180 days in prison.
In short: if you accidentally set your thermostat incorrectly, you will be better off than your neighbor who deliberately heated his pool to 25 degrees. The penalty should be even heavier for a company that deliberately exceeds gas consumption limits. The quota order is also subject to penal provisions. -Blick
What's more, according to Economic Minister Guy Parmelin, there may be spot checks to ensure compliance.
And while the poster above may be fake, a DEF spokesperson told Blick that "if the infringement was reported and checked and could then be proven," they may take action against violators.
Precisely, checks are not excluded, especially if one is denounced by a disgruntled neighbor or a neighborhood vigilante who is a little too zealous. In these cases, whoever heats up to 20 degrees instead of 19 can expect a fine. -Blick
"If a complaint is filed in this direction, the police must act," added the director of the Swiss police.