5G

5G coronavirus conspiracy theories are dangerous nonsense

5G towers attacked because of crackpot coronavirus conspiracy theories

Crackpot conspiracy theories linking 5G networks to the coronavirus pandemic are being blamed for a spate of attacks on UK cellphone towers.

Fires at towers in Birmingham, Liverpool and Belfast have all been blamed on baseless conspiracy theories, with theories ranging from 5G signals causing the virus, to the contagion being started as a cover-up for health maladies related to the networks.

UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove damned the tales as “dangerous nonsense” while noting that the damaged phone lines are crucial for emergency services battling the pandemic.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, called the claims “outrageous” and “absolute and utter rubbish”.

“I’m absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency,” Mr Powis told Saturday’s Downing Street press conference. “It is absolute and utter rubbish.”

Cabinet minister Michael Gove called the theories “dangerous nonsense”.

On Thursday evening, West Midlands Fire Service said eight firefighters attended an incident involving a 70ft tower on a telecommunications site in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham, although the cause of the fire was not determined.

Fire crews were called to a blaze at a phone mast in Aintree, Merseyside, on Friday night but a spokeswoman for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said there were “no signs of foul play” so an investigation into its cause was not launched.

Police in Belfast have also appealed for information after a mobile phone mast was targeted in an arson attack, with social media videos suggesting it was fuelled by anti-5G activists.

The GSMA is calling on internet companies, content providers and social media platforms to accelerate their efforts to remove fake news linking 5G to the spread of COVID-19. 

In a statement, Mats Granryd, the director general of the GSMA, the global communications industry body, said:

“The telecoms industry is working around the clock to keep vital health, education and emergency services online, businesses running, and friends and families connected. It is deplorable that critical communications infrastructure is being attacked based on outright mistruths. We urge everyone to trust health authorities and rest assured communications technology is safe. There is no link between 5G and Covid-19.”

The media regulator, Ofcom, said on Thursday it was monitoring broadcasters who spread the discredited conspiracy theory, although coverage has spread more widely on social networks, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor.

In a joint letter, the UK’s four largest mobile operators – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – said the attacks on phone masts were harming people and businesses who depended on connectivity.

UK Carriers Joint 5G Statement

While there’s no evidence to support the idea that 5G airwaves contribute to Covid-19’s spread, the conspiracy is being shared widely on social media.

The government has set up special units to combat misinformation about the virus, and says it’s pressing social media companies “for further action to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumors which could cost lives.”

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