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Arson investigation launched after 5G phone mast torched

Image credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

An investigation has been launched after a 5G mobile phone mast in Derby was torched. The blaze is the latest in a rash of incidents nationwide, thought to be linked to false claims the 5G network spreads Covid-19.

Derbyshire Police appealed for witnesses after the fire brigade were called to the blaze in the Chaddesden area of Derby, at 2am this Sunday (26 May). In a statement, the force said: “We believe the fire was started deliberately and we are investigating.”

The arson attack follows more than 50 incidents nationwide, as it is believed by some the next-generation network is linked to the spreading of coronavirus. These attacks have prompted action from social media giants Twitter and Facebook to crack down on accounts pushing “unverified claims”.

A telecoms mast on Becontree Avenue in Dagenham after a fire on 14 April 2020

A telecoms mast on Becontree Avenue in Dagenham after a fire on 14 April 2020

Image credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

Conservative MP Damian Collins, who launched a fact-checking service, also called for a new law to be introduced to stop persistent spreaders of disinformation online.

Collins, who set up Infotagion to combat falsehoods during the pandemic, said: “It’s not good enough that we just have to remove certain posts that are wrong”. He added that famous figures with large followings also needed to act more responsibly with what they share online.

In April, This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes was issued guidance by media watchdog Ofcom after he made comments on TV relating to Covid-19 and 5G.

More recently, Mark Zuckerberg has defended Facebook’s record of combating misinformation on the social network during the coronavirus outbreak. The Facebook founder and chief executive said the platform removed all content which “puts people in imminent risk of physical harm”.

He added that 5G misinformation, which he acknowledged had been “very prevalent” in the UK and has led to a number of phone masts been attacked, is considered an imminent threat and would be removed immediately.

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