Celebrities criticised for ‘fanning flames’ of 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories after reports of phone masts set on fire
Anthony Cuthbertson and Conrad Duncan – The Independent April 4, 2020
Celebrities have been criticised for “fanning the flames” of conspiracy theories linking 5G technology to coronavirus after several videos claiming to show 5G towers on fire emerged on social media.
A Facebook page, which was created on Thursday, encouraged people to set fire to the towers due to baseless claims about the health risks posed by 5G technology, before the social media company took down the page on Friday morning.
“Conspiracy theorists are a public health danger who once read a Facebook page,” Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, said.
“Here, we also see similar groups of people keen to show their ignorance on a topic where they have no helpful expertise, nor any inclination to post useful public health messages.
“The celebrities fanning the flames of these conspiracy theorists should be ashamed.”
On Thursday evening, West Midlands Fire Service said eight firefighters attended an incident involving a 70ft tower on a telecommunications site in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham, although the cause of the fire was not determined.
Fire crews were called to a blaze at a phone mast in Aintree, Merseyside, on Friday night but a spokesperson for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said there were “no signs of foul play” so an investigation into its cause was not launched.
The mast had been featured in a video shared on social media the previous weekend by someone who claimed to be measuring radiation from it.
On Friday, Mobile UK, the trade body representing network providers, described the conspiracy theories about 5G as “baseless”, following videos posted on social media showing workers being harassed and phone masts on fire.
5G tower set on fire in Birmingham, Acocks Green pic.twitter.com/1GNe2xxJLF
— Official #1 Birmingham Page (@imjustbrum) April 2, 2020
The trade body said it was “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,” a statement said.