Police have quashed social media reports claiming eight men in “balaclavas” caused “multiple attacks” in Whitchurch in Hampshire last night.

A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary told The Advertiser there were “no reports” of such incidents. 

It comes after residents across Whitchurch and Andover shared the post, which appears to have been made up, on Facebook.

The fake Facebook post reads: “This evening there have been multiple attacks in the Whitchurch area made by four black males wearing balaclavas, wielding hammers.They are travelling around the area in a Red Vauxhall car, stopping randomly and robbing individuals. They have also driven a car off of the road to force it to stop and then attacked the occupants to take their valuables. The police are aware, please be vigilant and spread the word.”

Sharing this fake post, one Facebook user wrote: “I saw this post yesterday and thought it was fake, but last night in Andover eight black men were in town early hours of this morning starting fights and carrying weapons. Four of which were arrested. They had an accent and were driving a Red Vauxhall car. 

“This could be a coincidence and nothing at all related. But either way please keep safe.”

Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed that they are not aware of any such incidents or arrests.

This is the latest worrying trend in people spreading fake information before it has been verified. 

Last year, residents in Basingstoke shared posts about a girl who was alleged kidnapped. This turned out to be a social media scam. 

According to a study by Loughborough University’s Online Civic Culture Centre in 2019, 42.8 per cent of people admit to sharing inaccurate or false news.

The study also reported that “those who share news on social media are mainly motivated to inform others and express their feelings”.