Mobile operators announced on Monday that at least five cases of vandal towers have been set on fire in the UK in the past few days.
Some YouTube videos claiming a connection between the virus and the new superfast radio technology have triggered hundreds of thousands of views.
“These claims are not only unfounded but also harmful to the people and businesses who rely on the continuity of our services. They have also misused our engineers and, in some cases, prevented essential network maintenance.”
Many social media and internet platforms have already taken steps to curb the spread of coronavirus misinformation, ban content that suggests counterfeit treatments and remedies, and highlight reliable information in search and feed. But conspiracy theories like the wrong 5G connection have fallen into a gray area.
Following the arson attacks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman on Monday urged social networks to do more to remove such false information.
“By destroying these masts, people are actually endangering lives because they are masts used by emergency services,” the spokesman told reporters.
5G enables better and faster data processing and is seen as an integral part of new interconnected technologies such as automated vehicles and intelligent devices.
But false conspiracy theories about 5G’s association with the novel corona virus have been around since the virus first appeared in China. There is no evidence of a link between 5G technology and the spread of the coronavirus.
A spokesman said Twitter is leveraging machine learning and automation to remove false information.
“We will continue to take action on accounts that violate our rules, including content related to unreviewable claims that cause social unrest, widespread panic, or major disruption,” the spokesman said. “If people see anything suspicious about our service, please report it to us.”
Some videos claiming the connection contain a warning that they have been found wrong by fact checkers. Users can still view and comment on the videos, some of which have tens of thousands of views.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesman said the company is taking “aggressive” measures to combat misinformation related to the virus and “is beginning to remove false claims that link Covid-19 technology to 5G technology” and attacks promote on cell towers.
– Eoin McSweeney and Luke McGee contributed to this report.