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5G mast set on fire after ‘baseless’ conspiracy theory link to coronavirus

A 5G mast has been set on fire in a suspected arson attack after the technology was linked online to the spread of coronavirus.

Videos claiming to be of a 70ft (21m) tower in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham in flames were posted to social media on Thursday evening.

West Midlands Fire Service said eight firefighters from two crews were called to an incident on Spring Road at 8.18pm.

5G tower
Image: A 5G tower. File pic

It said: “The incident involved a 70ft telecommunications tower which was alight. Crews extinguished the fire and confirmed there was no smoke or fire spread to surrounding properties.

“Western Power attended to isolate power to the tower and the incident was left with them and police.”

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A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “We’re aware of a fire involving a phone mast, but are awaiting further details on its cause.”

Several videos claiming to show 5G towers on fire were posted to a page on Facebook which was created on Thursday and taken down by the platform on Friday.

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Campaign group The Centre For Countering Digital Hate said the first footage was posted to Instagram by a local man under the name of paddymann123 at 10pm and was viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

It was accompanied by the message: “Say no to 5G” and has since been shared on Twitter, on 5G conspiracy Facebook groups and on YouTube.

A different video posted on Twitter on Thursday, showing two men installing 5G cables under a road being berated by a woman claiming that 5G kills people, received 1.6 million views on Twitter.

Mobile UK, the network providers’ trade body, said “certain groups are using the COVID -19 pandemic to spread false rumours and theories about the safety of 5G technologies”.

It added: “More worryingly some people are also abusing our key workers and making threats to damage infrastructure under the pretence of claims about 5G.

“The theories that are being spread about 5G on social media are baseless and are not grounded in accepted scientific theory.

Facebook said the banned page was deleted for breaching its policies because it has the potential to cause real world harm.

However, one user claimed they reported the page early on to moderators for promoting violence, only to receive a response saying it was not deemed to be in violation of Facebook’s community standards.

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