“Condom snorting” – a dangerous activity that involves stuffing a condom up your nose until it comes out of your mouth – has been the subject of a number of recent viral news reports. It’s a years-old trend that wasn’t very popular even when it first surfaced – and now, in a bizarre twist, it’s now being used as an argument against young gun-control advocates in America.
The furore started in late March when KABB, a local Fox News affiliate in San Antonio, Texas, reported on an educational project teaching teens about a range of dangers, including risky viral challenges and trends.
One example caught on tape during the workshop was “condom snorting” – a supposedly viral trend that became a focus of the TV report.
From there, the story took off, prompting headlines such as “The condom snorting challenge is an actual thing people are doing” and “Condom Snorting Challenge’ Returns, Doctors Warn of Dangers”.
Although snorting a condom is indeed foolish and dangerous (for the obvious reason that a condom lodged in your nose or throat might make it very difficult to breathe), many reports gave the false impression that the challenge is going viral in 2018.
The fact-checking website Snopes noted that the vast majority of condom snorting videos online were more than a year old, with most dating from 2013.
Even then, the site noted, “the phenomenon was never that widespread and gradually petered out.”
But the current supposed revival of the challenge has been used to make a political point. Like the “tide pod” challenge before it, it’s been used as an argument in the heated online debate around gun control in the United States.
Some gun-rights advocates argue that the kinds of stupid and dangerous stunts that sometimes catch on among teenagers discredit the arguments made by the young activists behind the #NeverAgain movement which sprung up after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February.
One social media star who started got a lot of comments on a condom challenge video that he uploaded four years ago, recently noticed that his old clip was suddenly getting a surge in traffic.
“When I saw this I thought, ‘I got to find out who is doing these challenges… is someone new going viral?'” he told BBC Trending.
However, when he searched online he found no new examples of condom snorting. But the new surge in interest in his old video was being driven by gun enthusiasts.
“I had hundreds of comments about gun control,” he says. “It was like ‘you’re the generation taking away our guns and you’re doing this?’ It was hilarious. I’m Canadian and not very politically engaged but people were attacking me about gun control.
“It doesn’t make any sense as to why [these comments] are on my video in the first place. They’re not related.”
He also adds that while his initial video was an attempt to grab attention, “it’s a bad challenge that nobody should do.”