The UK’s major phone operators have issued a joint statement pleading for 5G conspiracy theorists to stop vandalising mobile masts.
It’s astonishing that we’ve got to this point, but for months now, the internet has been awash with baseless claims linking 5G to all manner of health issues, but after the outbreak of coronavirus things ramped up a gear.
Several mobile phone masts in the UK have reportedly been torched over recent days, and we’ve all seen that clip of telecoms engineers being harangued by one such conspiracy theorist.
“Sadly, we have experienced cases of vandals setting fire to mobile masts, disrupting critical infrastructure and spreading false information suggesting a connection between 5G and the COVID-19 pandemic,” EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 said in a joint statement on Sunday evening.
“There is no scientific evidence of any link between 5G and coronavirus.”
The statement continues: “Stopping this is critical to keeping your communities connected.
“Not only are these claims baseless, they are harmful for the people and businesses that rely on the continuity of our services. They have also led to the abuse of our engineers and, in some cases, prevented essential network maintenance taking place.”
UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove slammed the claims during Saturday’s coronavirus briefing, saying, “That’s just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well.”
Stephen Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, was much stronger in his condemnation: “The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish. It’s nonsense. It’s the worst kind of fake news. The reality is that the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us, particularly in a time when we are asking people to stay at home, and to not see relatives and friends.
“But in particular, those are also the phone networks that are used by our emergency services and our health workers. And 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.
“It is absolute and utter rubbish, and I can’t condemn it in stronger terms than that.”
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Independent fact checking charity Full Fact has put together a useful article that summarises many of the ludicrous claims that have been made by the 5G conspiracy theorists, and helps explain why this particular phenomenon has taken off. You can read it here.