Desperate to go viral: Instagram influencers don face masks and hijack the coronavirus hashtag in bid to increase their followers.

Continuing to prove that we live in a hellish dystopia, not only has a deadly and highly contagious virus broken out, but in almost no time at all, influencers have begun picking up on the…trend?

With 213 deaths reported so far, and the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a public health emergency, discussion of the outbreak is a hot topic.

As such, #coronavirus has become a widely used tag on Instagram , largely filled with useful info (and memes—this is still the internet, after all). Statistics, updates, suggestions for how to help prevent catching it all show up in these tags, things you would expect, and things are directly relevant.

But we’re also starting to see Instagram influencers in the tag, posting their usual fashionable photos of themselves with one major difference—the surgical mask.

In some scenarios, these influencers might actually be doing some good.

Some users appear to be using their influence as an opportunity to actually share useful information and help their followers keep safe.

“China has isolated the city with most cases identified but numbers of them are believed to have already left the city with the virus,” wrote Jada Hai Phong Nguyen alongside a photo of her chilling with her dog and wearing a mask. “Spreading awareness in our communities to fight this outbreak is very important.”

But many influencers are being slammed for appearing to take advantage of the popularity of the #coronavirus hashtag.

“@Healthy_mandy and I only kiss in public places with face masks,” writes one fitness influencer visiting Thailand, sharing an overtly attention-grabbing photo of him and his girlfriend kissing with masks on.

Perpetually controversial YouTuber Logan Paul is among those drawing negative attention for posting a #coronavirus pic, with a post that basically summarizes everything obnoxious about influencers jumping onto this trend.

And as long as the coronavirus still remains a topic of conversation and a popular search term, it seems unlikely influencers will back off from this bandwagon, regardless of the backlash.

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*First Published: January 31, 2020, 7:25 am