Coronavirus: Twitter Clamps Down On Incitement To Attack 5G Towers

Twitter is clamping down on reckless tweets “that incite people to engage in harmful activity”, in light of the recent attacks on mobile towers in the UK and the Netherlands.

It is reported that at least 50 mobile phone masts across the UK have been torched or otherwise vandalised in the past few weeks, after consipracy theories alleged that 5G was the cause of Coronavirus.

There was also a surge in attacks on mobile phone towers or masts over the Easter weekend, but nearly all the towers attacked had no 5G tech (due to its limited deployment so far), meaning the attackers damaged mostly 4G and 3G tech.

Foolish celebrities

Days ago Ofcom warned TV channel London Live over its interview with conspiracy theorist David Icke, whilst ITV was issued guidance by Ofcom, after ‘This Morning’ presenter Eamonn Holmes cast doubts on media reports that debunked the false rumour that 5G causes Coronavirus.

Ofcom said his comments were ‘ill-judged’, but a number of other foolish celebrities have unfortunately highlighted the false link between 5G and Coronavirus.

Last month an American singer/songwriter claimed 5G networks were to blame for the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. She subsequently retracted her claims.

Other celebrities jumped on the bandwagon, including Amanda Holden who tweeted a link to an anti-5G petition to her almost 2 million followers.

Boxer Amir Khan and actor Woody Harrelson have published similar claims, despite the fact that anyone with a scientific understanding would know it is biologically impossible for 5G to cause Coronavirus.

Vodafone UK’s chief executive Nick Jeffery recently revealed that one of the attacked towers provided mobile connectivity to the Nightingale hospital in Birmingham, denying family the ability to say their goodbyes remotely to loved ones.

BT’s chief executive, Philip Jansen, who himself was struck down with Coronvirus, pleaded for the “mindless idiots who truly believe that 5G and Covid-19 are linked” to stop their attacks. He said that BT engineers had been verbally attacked and even physically assaulted by some.

Telephone poles have also been wrapped in barbed wire.

Twitter guidance

Into this stepped Twitter, when its safety team said it had “broadened our guidance on unverified claims that incite people to engage in harmful activity, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder.”

Twitter added that since it introduced its updated policies last month, it had emoved over 2,230 Tweets containing misleading and potentially harmful content.

And it said that Twitter’s automated systems have challenged more than 3.4 million accounts targeting manipulative discussions around Covid-19.

YouTube has already cracked down on all conspiracy theory videos that falsely link 5G networks to the spread of Coronavirus.

Facebook has announced it would crack down on the 5G conspiracy theories.

Misleading social media

Government officials at the daily Coronavirus briefings last week expressed their frustration at the conspiracy theories, which they said was mostly found on social media.

“Misinformation is rife on social media, so it’s excellent to see one of the bigger players mute such commentary,” said Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET. “As long as the algorithm used doesn’t get misused or even manipulated to quash free speech in the future, then this is a fantastic use of technology and will be used to thwart such ridiculous theories.”

“Twitter have a long history of being trailblazers in such areas so hopefully we will see other social media platforms take the same stance on such a hot topic,” Moore added. “Additionally, education is also crucial here. Banning misinformation – although sensible, especially in instances of violence like this – only suffices as a short term solution.”

“A longer term solution lies in the hands of the reader, who can raise suspicions around fake news and spread awareness – which is, itself, equally important when rolling out a ban like this,” Moore concluded.

Last month experts at the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) declared that 5G was safe for human health.

ICNIRP is based in Germany, and it is the international body in charge of setting limits on exposure to radiation.

Earlier this year the UK communications regulator Ofcom carried out safety tests in the UK of 5G base stations and found that there is no danger to the public posed by electromagnetic energy (EME) levels.

How much do you know about UK mobile operators? Try our quiz!

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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