Facebook and YouTube Removing Content Linking 5G to Coronavirus
- By John K. Waters
Conspiracy theories linking the spread of the coronavirus with the rollout of 5G networks have become serious enough that Facebook will be taking "aggressive steps" to remove such misinformation as part of its response to hoaxes and false stories about the pandemic.
"We are taking aggressive steps to stop misinformation and harmful content from spreading on our platforms and connect people to accurate information about coronavirus," the company said in a statement. "Under our existing policies against harmful misinformation, we are starting to remove false claims which link COVID-19 to 5G technology and could lead to physical harm."
YouTube, which is owned by Google, has also said it will be removing content that specifically links 5G to the cause or spread of the coronavirus, but not 5G conspiracy videos in general.
"We're committed to providing timely and helpful information at this critical time, including raising authoritative content, reducing the spread of harmful misinformation, and showing information panels, using NHS and WHO data, to help combat misinformation," YouTube said in a statement. "Now any content that disputes the existence or transmission of COVID-19, as described by the WHO and local health authorities, is in violation of YouTube policies. This includes conspiracy theories which claim that the symptoms are caused by 5G."
The Facebook announcement comes on the heels of several attacks on cellphone towers in the United Kingdom last week that seem to have been motivated by a belief in this link. The British newspaper The Guardian reports:
Facing pressure from the government and a showdown with ministers, Facebook announced on Monday that it would start to actively remove false claims that linked COVID-19 to 5G and could lead to physical harm. However, its policy on other scientifically unjustified claims about 5G remain unclear.
Conspiracy theories swirled around 5G technologies before the arrival of COVID-19, largely stemming from the idea that radiation from the mobile networks causes illness directly in those nearby or weakens the human immune systems so that we are vulnerable to disease. As of this writing, none of those concerns have been validated by scientific evidence.
In fact, according to a seven-year-long scientific study by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the results of which were published in March, 5G has no detrimental health effects in general.
The claims in the current crop of theories range from blaming 5G for spreading the virus to claims that it actually caused it. The COVID-19 pandemic was created/exacerbated to cover up the deleterious effects of 5G, these theories claim.
John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.