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Phone towers attacked as 5G-coronavirus conspiracy theory gains steam

A video has surfaced on social media of workers being harassed by a woman claiming the technology “kills people”.

And celebrities are adding fuel to the unfounded theory that 5G wireless technology has any connection to the coronavirus pandemic, itself spreading like a virus across social media.

On Friday, Woody Harrelson posted a video on Instagram showing a mob in China tearing down a mobile phone tower.

Harrelson did not respond after the weekend incident but had previously written on his Instagram page: “A lot of my friends have been talking about the negative effects of 5G.”

Similarly, British celebrities such as singer M.I.A. and reality show star Calum Best are among those propagating unfounded connections between the 5G rollout in Wuhan, China, and the origination of the virus.

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5G, which actually comprises two different forms of transmission, is the latest-generation wireless technology that telecoms have been rolling out in segments over the past year.

A slew of videos supporting the conspiracy theory have been posted on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, which prompted criticism of those companies. They responded on Monday.

“We are taking aggressive steps to stop misinformation and harmful content from spreading on our platforms and connect people to accurate information about Coronavirus,” Facebook said in a statement provided to USA TODAY.

Twitter said its automated systems have challenged more than 1.5 million accounts that were targeting manipulative discussions around COVID-19.

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The company also said it has broadened its definition of harm after announcing last week it had “taken action” on more than 1100 Tweets containing misleading and potentially harmful content.

“We will continue to take action on accounts that violate our rules, including content in relation to unverifiable claims which incite social unrest, widespread panic or large-scale disorder.”

YouTube said it has begun “reducing recommendations” of borderline content such as conspiracy theories related to 5G and coronavirus.

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