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Australian Terrorist Attack Warning Hoaxes

November 2005:

A number of emails and text messages warning about impending terrorist attacks are currently circulating in Australia. None of the messages that I have seen cite credible sources nor are they backed up by police warnings or mainstream media reports.

The NSW police have issued a statement cautioning the public against taking the messages seriously. Part of the statement is included below:

The alleged threats have been investigated by NSW Police and other authorities and found to be baseless, unsubstantiated and without foundation.

A determination has been made regarding these text messages and emails and they are regarded by authorities as little more than the equivalent of "chain mail.

In the event that any information relating to a possible terrorist attack was assessed by the NSW Police as credible, be assured those affected would be advised by the NSW Police"
If you receive a warning about an impending terrorist attack via email or text, it is very important that you check the veracity of the information before sending it to others. Hoax warnings such as these tie up the resources of police and government agencies. They also spread unnecessary fear and alarm in a community that may already be apprehensive about potential terrorist activities. Furthermore, such false warnings can lessen the impact of legitimate warnings that may be issued in the future.

Again, it is vital that you check the truth of terrorist related "warning" messages before you forward them. Such messages are certainly not harmless. The majority of recipients will forward such misinformation in good faith. However, especially with regard to important issues such as terrorist warnings, it is the responsibility of the recipient to check the veracity of information before spreading it to others. Indeed, there are harsh penalties in place for those who knowingly spread fear and alarm by perpetrating hoaxes.

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