Twitter just added 5G conspiracy theories to the growing list of unverified coronavirus claims that are grounds for removal. Under the new rules, Twitter will remove tweets with “unverified claims that incite people to engage in harmful activity, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure.”
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.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) April 22, 2020
Importantly, the new rules don’t apply to all tweets spreading 5G conspiracy theories though. Twitter says it’s instead prioritizing claims that include a specific “incite people to action” or otherwise encourage vandalism, such as “5G causes coronavirus — go destroy the cell towers in your neighborhood!”
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Conspiracy theories about 5G technology have become particularly problematic during the coronavirus pandemic. There have been 50 fires “targeting cell towers and other equipment,” in the Uk during the past month, according to the Associated Press. The conspiracy theories have been linked to anti-vaccine groups and Russian state media.
Twitter’s latest update is an expansion of the site’s previous rules around unverified info that can incite panic or social unrest, such as claims of food shortages that encourage panic-buying. Since then, the company says it’s removed more than 2,230 tweets with “misleading and potentially harmful content.”
This is the conspiracy theory. In March, Dr Thomas Cowan, a US doctor on disciplinary probation, claimed 5G poisoned cells in the body forcing them to excrete waste which eventually became known as COVID-19.
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The video, which went viral and was reposted by several celebrities, has been disproven by several scientists who questioned the validity of the evidence. It has since been removed by YouTube.
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“Viruses are not just debris,” Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist and Canada research chair in emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba, said in an interview with CBC. “Viruses don’t just get created as a way to deal with poison.”
Scientists have been able to recreate the virus in a lab, proving it is not simply a secretion from human cells, while there were numerous other claims in the Cowan video which did not add up. Cowan suggests the emergence of the Spanish Flu (1918) coincided with the launch of commercial radio services (1920), while he also claims the fact Wuhan is ground-zero for COVID-19 and the first city to have 5G (it wasn’t) was also proof of the link.
A good summary and debunking of the 5G+Covid-19 conspiracy theories here https://t.co/xydssypSeC Worth a 5 minute read, if for no other reason than to learn what garbage is emerging from the fevered imaginations of some wackos.
— Ken Hyers (@kenhyers) April 22, 2020
This is fantasy, and while Cowan might present himself as an expert, a deeper dive into his history presents a very murky character being investigated by the Medical Board of California for using unlicensed drugs, an author of books promoting ideas contrary to conventional medical procedures and a champion of the anti-vaccination movement.