- Social media firms ordered to be vigilant in responding to 5G fake news
- Scientists refute the connection between 5G and Covid-19
- Vodafone, EE, 02 and Three unite to tackle misinformation
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok are among platforms being called to take action on content linking 5G to Covid-10 with scientists saying the conspiracy is “complete rubbish.”
The UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden is set to order social media companies to be more vigilant in responding to conspiracy theories linking 5G networks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dowden will have virtual meetings with technology firms this week to discuss the growing concerns after a number of 5G masts across the UK have been set on fire and telecom engineers facing physical threats.
Conspiracy theories claiming 5G technology helps transmit coronavirus have been condemned by the scientific community. According to a report from the BBC, University of Reading associate professor in cellular microbiology Dr Simon Clarke said the idea of a connection between Covid-19 and 5G is “complete rubbish” and biologically impossible.
He added: “The idea that 5G lowers your immune system doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.”
The posts spreading the misinformation have come from verified accounts which have hundreds of thousands of followers claiming that mobile phone networks and radio waves are responsible for coronavirus.
Telecoms industry trade body Mobile UK has said false rumours and theories linking 5G and coronavirus were “concerning,” while the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has reiterated there is “absolutely no credible evidence for the link”.
Anonymous social media accounts have mainly been responsible for the spread of fake news linking the two together, however celebrities have also been criticised for joining in.
Actor Woody Harrelson shared a post on Instagram pointing to a link between 5G and the coronavirus pandemic, while British boxer Amir Khan also joined in with a series of live Instagram videos which suggested the disease was “man-made” and has been “put here for a reason, while they test 5G.”
Vodafone UK’s chief executive Nick Jeffrey confirmed yesterday that “vandals” had carried out a “series of arson attacks” on masts around the country, and that some of the company’s engineers had been abused in the street.
“This is a matter of national security,” he said, adding that theories of links between Covid-19 and 5G networks were “utterly baseless” and pleaded for users to not share them across their social media channels.
UK telcos unite to end 5G fake news dissemination
In a joint statement from Vodafone, Three, O2 and EE, the telecoms giants said: “Sadly, we have experience cases of vandals setting fire to mobile masts, disrupting critical infrastructure and spreading false information suggestion a connection between 5G and Covid-19 pandemic. There is no scientific evidence of any link between 5G and coronavirus. Fact.”
In a tweet sent by Vodafone UK with EE, O2 and Three they called on its customers to “help us protect the UK’s critical infrastructure. Put a stop on misinformation sharing and prevent vandalism to our networks, replied upon by the NHS, critical services, and you.”
Help us protect the UK’s critical infrastructure alongside @EE @O2 and @ThreeUK.— Vodafone UK (@VodafoneUK) April 5, 2020
Put a stop on misinformation sharing and prevent vandalism to our networks, relied upon by the NHS, critical services, and you. pic.twitter.com/F5kjNCpwLU
At the UK’s daily government conference on coronavirus yesterday, cabinet secretary Michael Gove said the rumours were “just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well” while Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England, dismissed the claims as “the worst kind of fake news.”
He said: “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.”