Birmingham, Liverpool, Melling (Meyerside)… in the past week, three telephone antennas have been set on fire in the United Kingdom, reports the British press. At least four antennas were targeted by degradations during the weekend of April 4 and 5, reports operator Vodafone – fire was also reported in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
These three fires, of which there is little doubt about the criminal origin, occurred when a very popular conspiracy theory across the Channel linked the appearance of the coronavirus to the deployment of 5G antennas in the country. Particularly fanciful, this hypothesis, of which there are several variants, claims either that the epidemic was “invented” to “cover” the health consequences of 5G, or that 5G waves “expel” air from the lungs and have facilitated or caused the contamination of Covid-19. These theories have also been propagated by certain British celebrities, including Amanda Holden, the judge of the reality TV show “Britain's got talent”, who broadcast to her almost two million Twitter subscribers, a petition linking 5G to the epidemic.
In a press release, the British telecommunications regulator specifies:
“We have received several reports of vandalism targeting telephone antennas, as well as attacks on telecommunications workers, inspired by crazy conspiracy theories circulating on the Internet. Those responsible for these acts will be prosecuted with the utmost severity. “
Employees of a subsidiary of British Telecom (BT) responsible for installing Internet connections in British homes have also published several calls for calm on social networks, after several incidents in which employees were threatened on the street . Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said he received threats after speaking out against the theories.
Limitations on social networks
Some social networks, including YouTube, have announced that they will put in place new measures to limit the spread of conspiratorial videos linking 5G technology to the Covid-19 epidemic:
“We have started to diminish the place of videos promoting 5G conspiracy theories and the epidemic, which dangerously misinform our users. “
Videos should now appear less frequently in video watch suggestions, which are a huge source of traffic on the platform. On Facebook, a search “5G coronavirus” displays, in its first results, several messages defending this conspiracy theory, before those of the health authorities, was able to note The world, Monday morning.
But the problem does not only affect social networks: the British media regulator has also sanctioned a local radio who had given a large place on his antenna to a person propagating this theory.
These attacks on the telephone network also worry officials of the British health network. Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service, the British health service, strongly denounced these acts of vandalism:
“The reality is that mobile networks are absolutely critical for all of us, while we ask all citizens to stay at home and not see their relatives and friends. But more particularly, these networks are used by our emergency services and workers in the health system, and I am totally furious, totally disgusted to see that there are attacks on the very infrastructures that allow us to respond to this emergency sanitary. “
The antennas burned down in recent days were not all 5G antennas. According to the BBC, at least one of the burnt towers appeared to lack a 5G antenna.