13 votes

At least twenty UK phone masts vandalised over false 5G coronavirus claims

5 comments

  1. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    From the article (from last week):

    From the article (from last week):

    At least 20 mobile phone masts across the UK are believed to have been torched or otherwise vandalised since Thursday, according to government and industry sources who are increasingly concerned about the impact of baseless theories linking coronavirus to 5G networks.

    There have been noticeable clusters of attacks on masts around Liverpool and the West Midlands. Owing to the slow rollout of 5G in the UK, many of the masts that have been vandalised did not contain the technology and the attacks merely damaged 3G and 4G equipment.

    There is hope that the rate of attacks may now be slowing. Network operators are particularly concerned about the safety of their staff, as members of the public have confronted telecoms engineers maintaining critical infrastructure, sometimes filming the encounters to share on social media. Mobile operators and home broadband providers estimate there have been at least 30 such incidents in the last week.

    4 votes
    1. JoylessAubergine
      Link Parent
      I'd be curious how many has been torched and how many have been "otherwise vandalised". The guardian has been prone to exaggeration recently.

      I'd be curious how many has been torched and how many have been "otherwise vandalised". The guardian has been prone to exaggeration recently.

      2 votes
  2. [3]
    Death
    Link
    It's interesting to see that while Social Networks have been praised for their proactive roles in helping contain misinformation about the pandemic, this is apparently an area they could not...

    It's interesting to see that while Social Networks have been praised for their proactive roles in helping contain misinformation about the pandemic, this is apparently an area they could not manage. Even though it is related.

    Despite repeated assurances from international radiation watchdogs that 5G is safe, baseless theories about its purported risks have long bubbled away at the fringes of the internet – in common with previous generations of the telecoms technology. However, the rapid explosion over the last week of claims linking the new telephone standard to the pandemic – fanned by some celebrities and influencers – has caught the industry and the government off guard.

    I believe the celebrity aspect is much more of a point than we're giving it credit. Conspiracy theories thrive as soon as they're given these airs of legitimacy. Celebrities holding strange views probably isn't anything new but I think we might be in for a conversation about how we're supposed to handle things like this in the future. If there is a pattern of celebrity pseudo-endorsement of a conspiracy theory followed by violent and unlawful actions in the real world then sooner or later something's got to give.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. Death
        Link Parent
        Reddit's in a weird grey zone now where it's not considered a social network or part of the usual suspects in the common discourse (though it really should be). Usually the focus is squarely on...

        Reddit's in a weird grey zone now where it's not considered a social network or part of the usual suspects in the common discourse (though it really should be). Usually the focus is squarely on Google, Twitter and Facebook, which have been trying various things to curtail the spread of misinformation as much as possible including giving authoritative sources like the WHO free access to promotion mechanisms, using special banners on their pages to guide people to these sources, and cracking down harder on misinformation moderation (Casey Newton has been following the developments in his newsletter). The degree of success has been...varied, so far.

        I'm not sure what, if anything, Reddit is doing but personally I wouldn't be surprised if this were another thing they'd drop the ball on with regards to moderating the website.

        1 vote
    2. arp242
      Link Parent
      I suppose this is the flipside of "net neutrality", or indeed, the internet in general. It allows better sharing of information, which is really amazing, but that applies both to good information...

      I suppose this is the flipside of "net neutrality", or indeed, the internet in general. It allows better sharing of information, which is really amazing, but that applies both to good information and bad information; there is no difference.

      40 years ago some celebrity saying something crazy usually wouldn't get a lot of traction, maybe the newspapers would roll their eyes make a report about it if it was particularly egregious, but most of the time: no one would know, and it would simple be forgotten.

      Of course, crazy stuff got spread around in the past too, a famous example of this is something like The Turner Diaries, but it was much more restricted, leading to fewer "converts".

      I'm not sure what to do about this, because doing something would be at odds with freedom of speech. Would the cure be worse than the disease? Also it's hard technically, previously it was limited by simple logistics, but this is pretty hard to now on a technical level.

      Knowing "what is true" has always been a hard problem, but now – even with the best of intentions – it's much harder. Having the media gatekeep isn't always good either especially when it goes wrong (Red scare, Satanic panic), but I'm not so sure we're better off now to be honest.

      1 vote