Facebook taking 'aggressive steps' to quash 5G conspiracy theories that could cause physical harm

(Image credit: Stephen Warwick/iMore)

5g Facebook

Source: Stephen Warwick/iMore (Image credit: Source: Stephen Warwick/iMore)

What you need to know

  • Facebook has vowed tougher measures to suppress false conspiracy theories about 5G and COVID-19.
  • It says it will remove stories that could cause physical harm.
  • It comes after a weekend of reports where UK engineers were threatened and 5G towers were burned down.

A report by the Independent states that Facebook has said it will actively remove stories linking 5G and the coronavirus pandemic that could cause physical harm.

According to the report:

Facebook says it has started to remove stories linking coronavirus and 5G – but only if they will cause physical harm.The site said that it is taking "aggressive steps" to remove such misinformation as part of its response to coronavirus hoaxes and false stories more generally.But it will only take down those posts that are likely to cause physical harm, rather than any posts that include false claims about a link between phone masts and the COVID-19 outbreak.

Now physical harm is not just limited to violence from those propagating the story, or those who could be impacted by the burning of masts. It also includes claims about cures, treatments or the location/severity of the outbreak. For example, spreading false information regarding whether or not it was safe to travel or to flout social distancing could see your post get removed.

Facebook will also remove posts that encourage acts of arson against 5G masts.

Over the weekend we reported a spate of attacks whereby UK broadband engineers were threatened with verbal and physical abuse. It was also reported that several cities had seen 5G masts and mobile network towers (even ones that don't provide 5G) target by arson. As our report confirmed, there were also examples of violent threats against NHS patients on coronavirus wards in the UK, like the one below.


Source: iMore (Image credit: Source: iMore)

Thankfully, it seems that enough of a media storm was kicked up such that Facebook is taking these threats seriously. Sadly, however, these measures will not extend to propagating stories or information about the conspiracy if no one is under threat of physical harm. But it's a start.

UK engineers threatened and 5G masts burned by coronavirus conspiracy theorists

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9