Behind the 5G COVID-19 misinformation campaign

Wuhan was one of the first Chinese cities to get 5G, and of course it was also the first city to experience an outbreak of COVID-19.  That's the basis for what researchers are now calling a coordinated misinformation campaign, driven by an unknown source.  The Global Disinformation Index is reporting "organized" disinformation around coronavirus and Blackbird.AI is seeing "inauthentic amplification." Meanwhile, an academic researcher in Qatar is telling Bloomberg News that social media posts linking 5G to coronavirus bear some hallmarks of a "state-backed campaign."

The campaign moved from the digital world to the physical in the UK, where up to 10 cell towers have been burned or vandalized by activists concerned about a causal link between 5G and COVID-19. According to the BBC, towers have been torched in Liverpool, Birmingham and Melling in Merseyside. 

Social media is not the only source of the disinformation. In the UK, a community radio station called Uckfield FM hosted a healthcare worker who purported to have a scientific explanation of how 5G causes COVID-19 by "sucking oxygen" out of cells. 

In the United States, actor Woody Harrelson has shared social media posts linking 5G to coronavirus, and Americans are using the hashtag #5GKills to spread the theory that COVID-19 does not really exist and has been manufactured by the government to cover up a fatal illness caused by 5G. 

Source: Tom Warren, The Verge

Facebook and Twitter have both started removing posts that their content teams consider disinformation about COVID-19, and this may eliminate some of the 5G/coronavirus material. But like the virus itself, the theory that 5G causes it has already spread too far, too fast.

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