As of today, millions of people are already infected with the Coronavirus worldwide with thousands of deaths. People are scared and government of many countries have employed total lock down in order to help flatten the curves but in the midst of this trouble, there have been series of rumors and fake news being perpetrated on social media platforms whereby some calling the disease a bioweapon while others are calling it a way to control people with the recent being associated with the 5G network….yeah 5G! And because of this, numerous 5G masts are said to have been set on fire by the people.
The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden had planned out a virtual meeting with representatives from several tech organizations to discuss this matter which will as well test these companies’ commitments to free speech.
In the UK, 5G Masts in Birmingham, Liverpool as well Melling in Merseyside were set ablaze earlier this week according to news reports by the BBC.
And according to a Vodafone spokesperson who had a conversation with the BBC made it known that up to four further incidents have been reported over the past 24 hours at both the company’s site as well as sites shared with the O2 even though the locations weren’t identified.
“We have received several reports of criminal damage to phone masts and abuse of telecoms engineers apparently inspired by crackpot conspiracy theories circulating online,” a spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told the BBC.
“Those responsible for criminal acts will face the full force of the law.
“We must also see social media companies acting responsibly and taking much swifter action to stop nonsense spreading on their platforms which encourages such acts.” But the companies which are being summoned for this meetings are yet to be revealed.
A Nigerian pastor seeing speaking against the 5G network and attributing it’s effect with the Coronavirus
The “Conspiracy Theory” is spreading like wildfire
There have been unproven theories that were spread on platforms such as NextDoor, Pinterest and even a petition was held up on Petition.org while bigger social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok have had their own share of this conspiracies.
This was in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic whereby some people were conspiring and attributing the disease with the advent of the 5G network something which scientists have called “Complete rubbish” and said to be biologically impossible.
While discussions about this “Falsehood” hasn’t been completely banned on most of the aforementioned platforms, steps are said to have been taken to curb this. Pinterest for example is said to have limit its search results for the term “Coronavirus” as well as related terms that showed information from “Unrecognized” health organizations and sources even thought hat can not be compared to the restriction it has placed on the term 5G.
Pinterest, for example, limits its search results for coronavirus and related terms to showing pinned information from recognised health organisations but does not have a comparable restriction for 5G.
Facebook on the other hand is employing necessary measure such as banning a number of groups that encourages the attacks on 5G masts. There was however a post with the title “burn baby burn – it’s begun”, which accompanied videos of telecoms equipment ablaze, has been allowed to remain online at this time.
According to Change.org,its platform is made to allow anyone to setup a petition about any issue whatsoever that they care about even though there must be a comply with it’s community guidelines in order for those petitions to be allowed on the platform.
“We have removed a number of petitions making unsubstantiated health claims about 5G from the platform,” a spokeswoman added. Vodafone has said the attacks are “now a matter of national security”.
“It beggars belief that some people should want to harm the very networks that are providing essential connectivity to the emergency services, the NHS, and rest of the country during this difficult lockdown period,” wrote UK chief executive Nick Jeffery.
“It also makes me angry to learn that some people have been abusing our engineers as they go about their business.
“Online stories connecting the spread of coronavirus to 5G are utterly baseless. Please don’t share them on social media – fake news can have serious consequences.”
This isn’t the first time that people will freak out over the advent of the 5G network as this type of conspiracies have been spread across social media platforms since the past year.
Facebook in a way has been filled up with groups who claimed that the 5G technology is so dangerous and then pushing anti-vaccine attributing it to chipsets being installed into people and some religious groups attributes this to “666” in reference to the Book of revelation in the Bible.
Meanwhile, as these rumors and misinformation continues to spread like wildfire on these platforms, little to no efforts have been taken to curb them off considering the fact that these are unconfirmed and unscientific reports which makes no sense.
Up till Friday, complaints to Facebook moderators about a group which encourages the attack on 5G masts got response that the page did “not violate our community standards” – although after the BBC contacted Facebook’s press office it was taken down.
Social media platforms thrive because they are the avenue of free speech whereby people can freely discuss even controversial topics but then outlandish or unscientific rumors and encouragement to cause chaos or violence shouldn’t be tolerated by any of these platforms.
With governments trying to fight off the deadly coronavirus and health workers putting their lives on the line to ensure people are redeemed from the virus and then we have network infrastructures being destroyed all based upon rumors and falsehood based on some unrecognized campaigners is a bad thing to do. The world has enough problems to deal with already not hooliganism again.
With that said, social media companies have a lot to do in curbing of the spread of these “Dangerous nonsense” and are expected to act responsibly.