Saturday, 04 April 2020 05:42

Conspiracy theorists burn 5G masts as UK mobile network providers are forced to deny claims that 'radiation sparked coronavirus'

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British mobile network providers have been forced to debunk 'baseless' theories circulating online that 5G masts are linked to coronavirus after several were set on fire.    

MobileUK, the trade organisation representing Three, O2, EE and Vodafone, added it was concerning the pandemic was being used to further such untruths and said some of the industry's key workers are being abused over the unfounded 5G myths. 

It comes after videos emerged online of phone masts ablaze, including one in Birmingham and one in Coventry.   

Shocking footage posted to Facebook captured the moment the 70ft (21m) masts erupted in flames, with firefighters dispatched to tackle the inferno.   

Emergency services were called to the blaze on Spring Road in the Sparkhill area of the city at 8.18pm on Thursday night. Firefighters battled to douse the flames for two hours while police closed the road to protect traffic. Police say they are not yet sure what started the fire.

West Midlands Fire Service said eight firefighters attended an incident on Thursday evening, involving a 70-foot tower on a telecommunications site in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham - though a spokesman said the cause was yet to be identified and could not confirm whether the mast in question was 5G.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: 'We're aware of a fire involving a phone mast, but are awaiting further details on its cause.' 

But in a now-deleted Facebook group, conspiracy theorists claimed 5G being emitted was sparking coronavirus.  

There is no scientific evidence that 5G technology poses any threat to human health and it was confirmed as safe by the radiation watchdog last month.

Facebook said the banned page was deleted for breaching its policies because it has the potential to cause real world harm.

However, one user claimed they reported the page early on to moderators for promoting violence, only to receive a response saying it was not deemed to be in violation of Facebook's community standards. 

Several videos claiming to show 5G towers on fire were posted to a page on Facebook, which encouraged others to do the same.

The page was created on Thursday and taken down by Facebook on Friday morning.

'More worryingly some people are also abusing our key workers and making threats to damage infrastructure under the pretence of claims about 5G,' a statement said.

Mobile UK said: '[It is] concerning that certain groups are using the Covid-19 pandemic to spread false rumours and theories about the safety of 5G technologies.

'More worryingly some people are also abusing our key workers and making threats to damage infrastructure under the pretence of claims about 5G. 

'This is not acceptable and only impacts on our ability as an industry to maintain the resilience and operational capacity of the networks to support mass home working and critical connectivity to the emergency services, vulnerable consumers and hospitals.

'The theories that are being spread about 5G on social media are baseless and are not grounded in accepted scientific theory.

'Research into the safety of radio signals including 5G, which has been conducted for more than 50 years, has led to the establishment of human exposure standards including safety factors that protect against all established health risks.'

Facebook said the banned page was deleted for breaching its policies because it has the potential to cause real world harm.

However, one user claimed they reported the page early on to moderators for promoting violence, only to receive a response saying it was not deemed to be in violation of Facebook's community standards.

Elsewhere, O2 is issuing engineers working outside on essential network projects with a sign to explain they are a key worker, after reports of telecoms staff being verbally abused by members of the public.

'Engineers are out doing key work to keep everyone connected, making repairs and keeping the network running, so they'll show a sign to explain that,' a spokesman said.

Fact-checking site FullFact, the UK's leading and independent fact-checking charity, said this week: 'There is no evidence that 5G WiFi networks are linked to the new coronavirus.' 

WHAT IS 5G AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

The evolution of the G system started in 1980 with the invention of the mobile phone which allowed for analogue data to be transmitted via phone calls.   

Digital came into play in 1991 with 2G and SMS and MMS capabilities were launched. 

Since then, the capabilities and carrying capacity for the mobile network has increased massively. 

More data can be transferred from one point to another via the mobile network quicker than ever.

5G is expected to be 100 times faster than the currently used 4G. 

Whilst the jump from 3G to 4G was most beneficial for mobile browsing and working, the step to 5G will be so fast they become almost real-time. 

That means mobile operations will be just as fast as office-based internet connections.

5G is expected to be so quick and efficient it is possible it could start the end of wired connections.  

By the end of 2020, industry estimates claim 50 billion devices will be connected to 5G.

 

MailOnline