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Twitter adds fact-checking label to tweets linking pandemic with 5G

A link telling users to 'Get the facts about COVID-19' is appearing when users tweet the words '5G' and 'corona'

Adam Smith
Tuesday 09 June 2020 13:13
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Twitter is trying to launch a crackdown on tweets that claim 5G is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic.

Relevant tweets will now include a label underneath tweets that tells users to “Get the facts about COVID-19”. That link then takes users to a Twitter page entitled “No, 5G isn’t causing coronavirus”, with articles, government information, and tweets from other fact-checking organisations about the conspiracy theory.

Speaking to Business Insider, the social media site said: “Last month, we announced that we are introducing new labels and warning messages to provide additional context and information on some Tweets containing disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19.”

Twitter has tried to avoid removing tweets completely, unless such tweets contain “a call to action that could potentially cause harm”. This is part of the reason why tweets from prominent users such as Elon Musk, who incorrectly stated that children are “essentially immune” to the coronavirus, remain on the site.

“As we've said previously, we will not take enforcement action on every Tweet that contains incomplete or disputed information about COVID-19. Last month, we announced that we are introducing new labels and warning messages to provide additional context and information on some Tweets containing disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

Previous action taken by Twitter has included removing fake content and misinformation, hiding "misleading" tweets with warnings, and linking people to government information when they search for 5G-related news.

Twitter is applying this new label widely, meaning many tweets that simply reference the connection between 5G and the coronavirus now include the note. As such, many Twitter users have made jokes using the label. “Labeling or placing a warning on Tweets continues to be an iterative process,” Twitter told Engadget.

The link between 5G and the coronavirus has resulted in cell tower masts set alight and engineers being harassed by people incorrectly believing the conspiracy theory. It appears that the myth started circulating in early January from a now-deleted article in a Dutch-language newspaper and since then the belief has been propagated on social media and shared by numerous celebrities.

However, such beliefs can be easily debunked. The coronavirus continues to spread in countries which do not have access to 5G such as Iran, and 5G connectivity in the UK and China exists between 4G and the 5GHz Wi-Fi range that many people have had in their homes prior to the pandemic.

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