Facebook Groups Spreading 5G Coronavirus Conspiracies Call for Engineer Attacks, Mast Burnings

Facebook groups spreading conspiracies about 5G technology have reportedly remained active on the social network despite "proactive" attempts to combat the misinformation.

The platform has been forced to take action after dozens of arson attacks on mobile phone masts in the U.K., seemingly by those who claim to believe the new wireless internet technology is linked to health issues, heightened levels of harmful radiation and even the spread of novel coronavirus.

Earlier this week, Facebook suspended two active groups linked to the theories, named "Stop 5G Group" and "Destroy 5G Save Our Children.

But analysis from Sky News this week found groups calling for the harassment of phone company engineers and destruction of masts appeared to still have active communities.

One group titled "What Goes Up Mast Come Down" remained online until this afternoon, and had reportedly featured posts that claimed it was "time to fight or die" and advocated for people building the 5G towers to be "run off site."

Other groups were seen sharing tools that other users could use to search for 5G antennas in their local areas, Sky News reported. Facebook has been contacted for additional comment.

Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the social network confirmed: "Content encouraging attacks on 5G masts and telecom workers clearly violates our policies and we're proactively taking action on Pages, Groups and posts to remove content that promotes this behavior.

"Over the last week under our existing policies against harmful misinformation we have also begun removing false claims that 5G technology causes the symptoms of or contraction of COVID-19.

"We will continue to work closely with governments, other tech companies and third parties to remove harmful misinformation and promote official guidance from local health authorities."

The CEO of Vodafone U.K., Nick Jeffrey, wrote in a LinkedIn post that the conspiracy theories were "utterly baseless" and said a mast serving an emergency hospital had been targeted.

"Please think about what you are doing and stop," he said in a blog post Wednesday. "Imagine if it were your mum or dad, your gran or grandad in hospital. Imagine not being able to see or hear them one last time. All because you've swallowed a dangerous lie. There is absolutely no link between 5G and coronavirus. There is no science based evidence 5G is harmful to human health."

The 5G theories have recently been spread by public figures including Woody Harrelson. Scientists and phone companies stress they are untrue.

"There is no scientific evidence of any link between 5G and the COVID-19 pandemic," read a joint statement from a collective of U.K. telecom companies, EE, o2, Three, and Vodafone.

"Not only are these claims baseless, they are harmful for the people and businesses that rely on the continuity of our services. They have also led to the abuse of our engineers and, in some cases, prevented essential network maintenance from taking place. Please help us make this stop."

Existing research has found no links between the rollout of 5G with both cancer and unsafe levels of radiation. The theories have been rejected by the British government, and the BBC reported they were branded "complete rubbish" by Simon Clarke, a professor in cellular microbiology.

"The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish, it's nonsense, it's the worst kind of fake news," NHS England's national medical director Stephen Powis said earlier this month.

He continued: "The reality is that the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us, particularly at a time when we are asking people to stay at home.

"They are also the phone networks that are used by our emergency services and our health workers and I'm absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency," the national health chief added. "It is absolute and utter rubbish, and I can't condemn it in stronger terms than that."

5G mobile phone mast
A 5g mobile phone mast on April 04, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. There have been isolated cases of 5G phone masts being vandalised following claims online that the masts are responsible for coronavirus. Matthew Horwood/Getty