Mobile UK – the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – has released a statement, reiterating its stance on the current wave of misinformation relating to 5G and the global coronavirus pandemic.
Since the beginning of the year, the number of fake posts and videos appearing on social media has grown exponentially, to the point where the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled it an ‘infodemic’ at the start of February.
“The 2019-nCoV outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ - an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it,” a WHO report read. “The Organization is working 24 hours a day to identify the most prevalent rumours that can potentially harm the public’s health, such as false prevention measures or cures. These myths are then refuted with evidence-based information.”
Mobile UK condemns conspiracy theories
And today, Mobile UK has joined the WHO in condemning the spread of false information, which now appears to be manifesting itself in attacks against 5G masts, as well as verbal and physical abuse towards telecoms workers as they strive to ensure that critical communications
“Worryingly some people are also abusing our key workers and making threats to damage infrastructure under the pretence of claims about 5G,” reads the Mobile UK statement. “This is not acceptable and only impacts on our ability as an industry to maintain the resilience and operational capacity of the networks to support mass home working and critical connectivity to the emergency services, vulnerable consumers and hospitals.”
The statement goes on to reiterate that the mobile industry and its workers are one of the critical sectors in new government regulations and legislation in response to dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This means that work to repair and maintain the telecommunications networks must be allowed to continue at the current time,” the statement says. “Gatherings of more than two people are permitted where this is essential for work purposes. We welcome this guidance, which will be of great help to our workforce who, while following strict NHS guidelines, are continuing to ensure that our mobile networks remain resilient and keep the UK connected.”