Conspiracy theories tying 5G networks to the coronavirus pandemic are troubling telecom authorities in the United Kingdom and are being cited as a possible motivation for multiple mobile data tower fires this week.
On Friday, emergency services were called to reports that a 5G mast was on fire in Liverpool shortly before 11pm. Police confirmed they were investigating the blaze at Spencer’s Lane, Aintree, close to the M57 motorway.
Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, revealed he had received threats relating to the “bizarre” theory, which has sparked massive debate on social media.
Fire crews managed to get the fire under control quickly and were photographed parked outside the field shortly after it was extinguished.
The media regulator, Ofcom, said on Thursday it was monitoring broadcasters who spread the discredited conspiracy theory, although coverage has spread more widely on social networks, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor.
Speaking at Saturday’s Downing Street press conference, cabinet secretary Michael Gove said the theories were “dangerous nonsense.” Professor Steve Powis, national medical director of NHS England, condemned them as “the worst kind of fake news.”
“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,” he said. “It is absolute and utter rubbish.”
Just hours before the reported incident in Liverpool, Anderson dismissed the theories as “bizarre.” He said he was amazed by the amount of traction the conspiracy was getting on social media, and that all scientific and government advice showed the technology posed no harm to people.
Conspiracy theories claiming 5G technology helps transmit coronavirus have been condemned by the scientific community.
Videos have been shared on social media showing mobile phone masts on fire in Birmingham and Merseyside – along with the claims.
The posts have been shared on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram – including by verified accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers.
But scientists say the idea of a connection between Covid-19 and 5G is “complete rubbish” and biologically impossible.
The conspiracy theories have been branded “the worst kind of fake news” by NHS England Medical Director Stephen Powis.