- Twitter has added a fact-checking label to tweets that appear to incorrectly link 5G with the coronavirus.
- The label reads: “Get the facts about COVID-19” and links to news articles, official sources, and tweets debunking the theory.
- The popular conspiracy theory claims 5G mobile technology is harmful to humans, and has therefore exacerbated the pandemic.
- There is no evidence to show 5G radio waves are harmful to humans.
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Twitter has started displaying fact-check labels on tweets that appear to incorrectly link 5G mobile technology to the spread of the coronavirus.
The label appears beneath such tweets, and reads: “Get the facts on COVID-19”. Clicking the label links through to a thread titled: “No, 5G isn’t causing coronavirus.” The thread links to news articles, tweets, and official sources that debunk the conspiracy theory.
Twitter promised it would fact-check coronavirus misinformation earlier in May.
While there have long been conspiracy theories that mobile radio waves harm humans, the idea has evolved in 2020 to incorporate the spread of the coronavirus. One popular claim by anti-5G conspiracy theorists claim is that new 5G technology is hurting people’s immune systems, thereby making them more susceptible to the coronavirus. However, there is no evidence that radio waves are harmful to humans.
The theory has taken such a hold that people have burned 90 cell towers in the UK in protest and assaulted telecoms engineers – the majority of whom were not actually working on installing 5G tech. Ofcom, the UK’s communications watchdog, was forced to publish a statement in April confirming that 5G wouldn’t hurt people.
The conspiracy theory has spread widely on social media. Facebook deactivated two anti-5G groups in early April, and said it would remove stories that wrongly link 5G and the coronavirus. YouTube said it would also remove videos that explicitly link 5G and the virus.
Twitter does not seem to be going as far as removing tweets linking 5G and the coronavirus.
The company has taken a more aggressive stance on fact-checking tweets in recent weeks, most notably adding fact-check labels in May to two tweets by President Trump that made false claims about mail-in voting. It went on to add a clickthrough block a few days later on another tweet by Trump about the George Floyd protesters which stated that the post violated its policies on “glorifying violence.” And on Thursday, the firm removed a video from another tweet sent by Trump about George Floyd, after a copyright complaint.
A Twitter spokesperson said: “We’re prioritising the removal of COVID-19 content when it has a call to action that could potentially cause harm.
“As we’ve said previously, we will not take enforcement action on every Tweet that contains incomplete or disputed information about COVID-19. Last month, we announced that we are introducing new labels and warning messages to provide additional context and information on some Tweets containing disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19.”