| 9.9°C Belfast

Twitter acts against ‘unverified claims’ inciting 5G mast attacks

The social network said it is taking action to prevent misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.

Close

A telecoms mast on Becontree Avenue in Dagenham after a fire on April 14 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A telecoms mast on Becontree Avenue in Dagenham after a fire on April 14 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A telecoms mast on Becontree Avenue in Dagenham after a fire on April 14 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Posts encouraging people to take action against 5G masts will be removed as part of wider efforts to double down on dangerous “unverified claims” across Twitter.

The social network said it has broadened its approach, focusing on accounts inciting the public to engage in harmful activity which “could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder”.

Though Twitter is prioritising such content, the company said it will not remove every tweet that “contains incomplete or disputed information” about coronavirus.

It comes amid a spate of mast vandalism attacks across the country, driven by unproven conspiracy theories linking 5G to coronavirus shared on social media.

Over the Easter weekend, 20 incidents were recorded, including a suspected arson attack on a mast in east London as well as one serving the Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham.

Twitter said it would also address other claims which could lead to widespread panic, giving one example as: “The National Guard just announced that no more shipments of food will be arriving for two months – run to the grocery store ASAP and buy everything.”

The firm said: “We have broadened our guidance on unverified claims that incite people to engage in harmful activity, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder.

“Since introducing our updated policies on March 18, we’ve removed over 2,230 Tweets containing misleading and potentially harmful content.

Close

Over the Easter weekend, 20 incidents of vandalism to 5G masts were recorded (PA)

Over the Easter weekend, 20 incidents of vandalism to 5G masts were recorded (PA)

PA

Over the Easter weekend, 20 incidents of vandalism to 5G masts were recorded (PA)

“Our automated systems have challenged more than 3.4 million accounts targeting manipulative discussions around Covid-19.”

Mobile UK, the trade body representing network operators in the UK, welcomed the move, saying: “Mobile operators are dedicated to keeping the UK connected during this challenging time, and careless talk could cause untold damage.

“Attacks on mobile infrastructure risks lives, and the UK’s critical sectors must be able to focus all their efforts fighting this pandemic.

“We welcome the work of social media companies to halt the spread of baseless theories that can lead to harmful and dangerous activity, including damage to critical mobile infrastructure.”

PA