Claim: 5G mobile networks are linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
Several Facebook users are sharing various conspiracy theories connecting 5G technology to the spread of the coronavirus.
One article claimed that vaccines given to the Chinese contained digitized RNA activated by 5G waves, which can cure or reactivate the virus in a person. This particular article was shared on Facebook at least 75 times, with 1,580 interactions, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.
Meanwhile, one page pointed out that the Philippines was the first country in Southeast Asia to install 5G internet and also had the most cases of coronavirus among the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Another Facebook user posted that he removed his 5G antenna, saying, "To all of you who are using PLDT Home Fibre, please if you wanna help the community to get rid of the so-called 'NCOV-19' remove it now and disable it through their homepage admin set up 192.168.1.1 also (sic) you may turn off its radio to stop it from sending and receiving harmful 5G waves."
These posts were spotted via CrowdTangle and Facebook Claim Check, a tool that detects posts with potentially false information.
The facts: The virus is spread through respiratory droplets. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed that viruses cannot travel on radio waves or mobile networks and that the virus is spreading in countries without 5G mobile networks.
On its "Myth busters" page, the WHO said 5G mobile networks do not spread the virus. Instead, the virus spreads through respiratory droplets when infected people cough, sneeze, or speak. It also infects people who touch a contaminated surface then touch their eyes, mouth, or nose. (READ: Viral conspiracy theory falsely links 5G to coronavirus)
Rumors linking 5G to the spread of the coronavirus have triggered attacks against 5G facilities in some countries. The Guardian reported that in the United Kingdom, at least 3 mobile phone masts have been burned around the country. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport has told people to stop damaging key infrastructure amid the national emergency.
"These are baseless theories, there is absolutely no credible evidence of a link between 5G and coronavirus. Threats or violence towards any key worker or damage to mobile phone masts will not be tolerated," a spokesperson said.
For its part, YouTube has also limited content that perpetuates conspiracy theories on the connection between 5G technology and the coronavirus, as reported by The Guardian.
“We have also begun reducing recommendations of borderline content such as conspiracy theories related to 5G and coronavirus, that could misinform users in harmful ways," a YouTube spokesperson said in the report.
As of Thursday, April 16, the global tally of coronavirus cases has hit two million, with at least 131,000 deaths recorded. – Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com
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