Wireless carriers in Europe, including EE, O2, Vodafone, and Three, released a press statement asking for people to stop burning down cell towers and to cease circulating false claims that 5G is somehow connected to the coronavirus epidemic. This statement follows a rash of attacks on 5G towers in the United Kingdom.
Vandals have set fire to at least three 5G towers throughout the UK in the past week, reports the BBC. Both police and fire services were needed to extinguish the flames.
Vodafone confirmed to The Verge that four of its cell phone towers were targeted within a 24 hour period. And it’s not just Vodafone under attack.
Wireless carrier EE confirmed that at least one of its towers was set on fire even though it did not support 5G technology. EE confirmed that “the damage caused by the fire is significant.”
Recent rumors linking the coronavirus outbreak with the rollout of 5G service have spread like wildfire, especially on social networks like YouTube, NextDoor, and Facebook. These rumors claim coronavirus developed in Wuhan, China because of the city’s proximity to 5G cellular service. This same theory argues that most of the cites stricken the hardest by the virus are suffering because of their 5G connectivity.
After a plea from The Guardian, YouTube and other social media platforms are doing their part to limit the spread of these false claims. A Twitter spokesperson told CNN that the company is using machine learning and automation to find and remove this incorrect information.
“We will continue to take action on accounts that violate our rules, including content in relation to unverifiable claims which incite social unrest, widespread panic, or large-scale disorder,” the spokesperson said.
Facebook is taking an “aggressive” stance against this false information, removing posts that falsely link 5G to coronavirus or incites people to act violently against this technology. YouTube also made a commitment to remove videos that claim there is a link between 5G and the coronavirus epidemic. These videos violate the company’s new policy prohibiting videos that promote “medically unsubstantiated methods” of preventing a coronavirus infection.
YouTube is removing 5G coronavirus videos but is not removing all 5G conspiracy videos. In these videos, the anti-5G groups claim that radiation from 5G towers cause health risks and lowers immune system effectiveness. In reality, this technology is as safe as existing wireless technologies such as 3G or 4G. Instead, YouTube is adding a disclaimer to the beginning of each video. This disclaimer points out that the theories prompted in the video were determined to be false by the company’s fact-checkers.