British 5G towers are being set on fire because of coronavirus conspiracy theories
5G phone masts are being set alight in the UK, after online conspiracy theories have misleadingly linked the cell towers to the coronavirus pandemic. The BBC reports that at least three 5G towers were set alight within the last week, and police and fire services were called to extinguish the flames.
A Vodafone UK spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that four cell towers were targeted in the past 24 hours. Police have now launched investigations into how the 5G towers caught fire. At least one tower in Birmingham, operated by EE, doesn’t even provide 5G services but was still set on fire.
“Our engineers are assessing the cause of the fire at one of our towers in Birmingham. If it transpires that it was arson, which looks likely at this time, then we will work to help West Midlands police identify a culprit,” says an EE spokesperson. “This site served thousands of people in the Birmingham area, providing vital 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity as it has done for many years. We will try to restore full coverage as quickly as possible, but the damage caused by the fire is significant.”
Rumors and conspiracy theories over a link between the roll out of 5G and the spread of coronavirus have been spread primarily through social media networks. A variety of groups exist on Facebook and Nextdoor, where thousands of members repeat false and misleading claims that 5G is supposedly harmful.
One theory claims that the novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan because the Chinese city had recently been rolling out 5G. It’s now supposedly spread to other cities that are also using 5G. These false conspiracy theories neglect to mention that a highly contagious virus would naturally spread more in densely populated cities with access to 5G, and that the coronavirus pandemic has hit counties like Iran and Japan where 5G isn’t in use yet.
There is no scientific evidence that links the coronavirus pandemic to 5G, nor any immediate negative health effects to 5G. Full Fact, an independent fact checking charity in the UK, has explored the claims after a British tabloid newspaper highlighted them recently. 5G uses a higher frequency of radio waves than 4G or 3G, but regulators in the UK have recorded 5G electromagnetic radiation levels well below international guidelines.