Fake cat cure news leaves locals baffled

09:00 | 06/06/2020
The ongoing pandemic is without a doubt one of the scariest incidents that the world has seen in a long time. However, as if the disease would not be enough already, the world is also facing another peculiar threat – an infodemic, spreading much faster than the virus and causing no less harm to the image of a country that was so successful in fighting the actual virus.
fake cat cure news leaves locals baffled
Fake cat cure news leaves locals baffled

Several tabloids, including the New York Post, the Toronto Sun, the US Sun and Vietnam Insider, published articles stating that black cats are being “collected, killed and their bodies ground up as a supposed coronavirus treatment.”

Each of these stories in some way or another attributed its information to the South West News Service, which removed said story after questions were raised about how widespread the practice is. Facebook also acted and flagged this and similar stories as part of its “efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed”, as stated by PolitiFact.

Timeout wanted to know what people think about the spread of such fake news as well as about their general attitude towards eating dog and cat meat. All people that reached out to us agreed that the story of grounding the meat of black cats to cure COVID-19 can just be a hoax.

Van, an emeritus of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities Hanoi, argued that while eating dog and cat meat remains a custom for some Vietnamese that is especially enjoyed together with alcohol, the story of using such meat as a cure for the new disease could only be a joke.

“I think this nonsense must be the result of a night on the razz, similar to a group of men I recently heard saying ‘Let’s have a few drinks to fight the virus’. It just can’t be taken seriously.” Van also mentioned that such jokes are part of Vietnamese culture; however, they can be easily misunderstood by foreigners who are unfamiliar with these, comparing it to one she made herself when retiring: “I posted on Facebook that I will go to Le Van Huu street [a wordplay on ve huu, meaning to retire] and probably start selling pho. All my Vietnamese friends knew I wasn’t serious but a South Korean friend, who speaks Vietnamese fluently, didn’t understand it and really thought I was going to sell pho on that street.”

Jolie Dao, a Hanoian mother of two, also says that “it is merely a hobby for some people who enjoy drinking lots of alcohol.” However, she also emphasised that eating cats and dogs is mainly a remnant of the past. “Nowadays, there are so many cat and dog lovers who are fighting this old-fashioned and cruel custom. In general, eating dog or cat meat is not as popular as it used to be and killing them is strongly condemned on social media,” Jolie said.

She also sees such fake news as a real threat to Vietnam’s and Asia’s image, adding that her plans to move to the UK are also being affected. “I feel worried as these stories can lead to discrimination against Vietnamese and other Asians there.”

By Etienne Mahler

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