Over 50 cell towers in the UK were vandalized over the weekend, with major telecom companies Vodafone, EE, and BT blaming the fraudulent conspiracy theory that 5G connectivity is the cause of coronavirus.
April 10-13 saw a rise in attacks that followed attacks earlier this month. 22 EE phone masts were vandalized, as reported by the I newspaper, and although not all were successful, houses had to be evacuated as a result and arrests were made. EE also confirmed that the majority of towers damaged do not currently support 5G. Vodafone CEO Nick Jeffrey said in a LinkedIn post
that 20 masts were damaged, including those providing connectivity to a hospital in Birmingham. BT CEO Philip Jansen said that 11 towers had been destroyed or damaged by arson, and 39 engineers had been verbally abused or physically assaulted.
Gareth Eliott, head of policy and comms for MobileUK (the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators), said that the notion 5G and coronavirus are connected is, “baseless and are not grounded in credible scientific theory … Mobile operators are dedicated to keeping the UK connected, and careless talk could cause untold damage. Continuing attacks on mobile infrastructure risks lives and at this challenging time the UK’s critical sectors must be able to focus all their efforts fighting this pandemic.”
There is no link between 5G and coronavirus and COVID-19 is present in places without 5G connectivity, such as Iran and Malaysia. These conpiracy theories have nevertheless been spread widely, and social media sites,
such as Facebook and Instagram have taken steps to crack down on coronavirus misinformation and disinformation. Meanwhile, Siri will discuss coronavirus with you, Google is rewarding users for sharing their symptoms, and Snapchat launched a mental health tool to ease your coronavirus anxiety.