5G phone masts are being set alight in the UK after online conspiracy theories have misleadingly linked the cell towers to the coronavirus pandemic. The BBC reports that at least three towers were set alight last week, and police and fire services were called to extinguish the flames.
Rumors and conspiracy theories over a link between the rollout of 5G and the spread of coronavirus have been spread primarily through social media networks. A variety of groups exist on Facebook and Nextdoor, where thousands of members repeat false and misleading claims that the technology is supposedly harmful.
One theory claims that the novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan because the Chinese city had recently been rolling out 5G. It’s now supposedly spread to other cities that are also using 5G.
These false conspiracy theories neglect to mention that a highly contagious virus would naturally spread more in densely populated cities with access to 5G and that the coronavirus pandemic has hit counties like Iran and Japan where 5G isn’t in use yet.
There is no scientific evidence that links the coronavirus pandemic to 5G, nor any immediate negative health effects to 5G. Full Fact, an independent fact-checking charity in the UK, has explored the claims after a British tabloid newspaper highlighted them recently.
It uses a higher frequency of radio waves than 4G or 3G, but regulators in the UK have recorded 5G electromagnetic radiation levels well below international guidelines.