The top four UK mobile operators have issued a joint statement asking for help to stop people burning 5G towers. Multiple cell towers were targeted in the UK last week in apparent arson attacks, after online conspiracy theories have been falsely linking the spread of the coronavirus pandemic to the roll out of 5G. There’s no scientific evidence to suggest a link, but the theories have been spreading widely on social networks like Facebook and Nextdoor. “Not only are these claims baseless, they are harmful for the people and businesses that rely on the continuity of our services,” says a joint statement from EE, o2, Three, and Vodafone. “They have also led to the abuse of our engineers and, in some cases, prevented essential network maintenance taking place.” Vodafone confirmed to the The Verge that four cell towers were targeted in a 24-hour period on Friday. The UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has branded the conspiracy theories “crackpot” and called on social networks to do more to stop them spreading. The UK’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, is also planning to hold virtual meetings with representatives from a number of tech companies this week to discuss the problem. YouTube revealed at the weekend that it’s reducing the number of videos it recommends which spread false claims that 5G is linked to the coronavirus. Vodafone CEO Nick Jeffrey called the attacks a “matter of national security,” and pleaded with people not to share the fake conspiracy theories.
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