5G coronavirus conspiracy theory leads to 77 mobile towers burned in UK, report says

Attacks on cell towers continue.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert

Mobile towers are being attacked in the UK due to false 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories.

Corinne Reichert/CNET

Almost 80 mobile towers have reportedly been burned down in the UK due to false coronavirus conspiracy theories that blame the spread of COVID-19 on 5G. The arson attacks began in early April, with 77 towers now damaged, Business Insider reported Wednesday citing industry group Mobile UK.

"Daily attacks are very low now but have not stopped entirely," a Mobile UK spokesman told Business Insider.

As of April 21, 40 employees of one UK carrier have also been attacked physically or verbally, according to BT CEO Philip Jansen. "We've even had one Openreach engineer stabbed and put in hospital," Jansen said.

The conspiracy theory is false -- radio waves can't cause a virus. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have all committed to taking down misinformation. UK carriers have also asked people to stop burning mobile towers, and the UK's national medical director called the 5G conspiracy theory "complete and utter rubbish."

The problem might not just be limited to the UK. Local police have reported 7 cell tower fires in the Montreal region of Canada over the last week. However, none of the damaged towers actually house 5G technology, reported CTV News.

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