This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Some drug dealers are also highly savvy ad men. Five-for-four deals, text reminders capitalising on a World Cup game, Instagram Story bat signals – and now, it would seem, Big Cocaine using a global epidemic to shift a load of gear.
As coronavirus continues to spread around the world, the French government has been forced to clarify that "cocaine does NOT protect against COVID-19. It is an addictive drug that causes serious side effects and is harmful to people's health." Reason being: a couple of Twitter accounts with large followings tweeted mocked up screenshots of news reports claiming that "cocaine kills coronavirus".
Are Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel behind these accounts, or are they just run by people shit-posting for RTs? Hard to say at this point. But what is clear is that doing a ton of coke will not ward off the effects of the virus. In fact – and I know this might be hard to believe – sharing bank notes with people to do cocaine, and getting their nose germs all inside your own nose, is actually likely to put you at more risk of contracting the virus than just not doing any cocaine at all.
This isn't the first piece of drug-related coronavirus misinformation to make the rounds. A couple of weeks ago, tweets and Instagram posts claiming that mephedrone kills coronavirus also started doing the rounds, while one of the first Brits to contract the virus in Wuhan, in early February, claimed he cured himself with a hot toddy.
No medical experts were immediately available to confirm whether or not drone or booze fights off coronavirus, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say they probably don't.
Facebook, Twitter and Google have all announced their plans to stop the spread of misinformation around the virus, with Mark Zuckerberg saying Facebook would remove coronavirus conspiracy theories from the platform and flag any content that could be misleading.
The UK government also has its own plans in place, announcing that "teams across Whitehall have been brought together into a unit to help provide a comprehensive picture on the potential extent, scope and impact of disinformation".