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David Icke kicked from Facebook for peddling misinformation

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A Facebook page belonging to veteran conspiracy theorist David Icke has been removed for sharing dangerous health information.

Icke – who became infamous for his claims that the world is controlled by inter-dimensional shape-shifting lizards – has recently turned his attention towards stirring distrust in 5G technology. In early April, Icke made entirely unfounded claims in a YouTube interview that the coronavirus pandemic was connected to 5G.

Although the video was removed and YouTube subsequently tightened its rules around health misinformation (including explicitly banning conspiracy theories connecting the pandemic to 5G), the genie was out of the bottle. Icke’s unfounded claims have been amplified by comments from a number of other influential figures, including ITV broadcaster Eamonn Holmes and athlete Novak Djokovic. Since then, there have been mounting attacks on telecommunications infrastructure and workers, with dozens of arson attacks recorded in the UK targeting mobile masts (including 4G masts) and allegations of physical attacks and death threats targeting engineers. The attacks have been roundly condemned by politicians and industry figures.

Ofcom research suggests that conspiracy theories linking 5G to the virus is now the most common form of coronavirus-related misinformation encountered by British people.

There is no evidence to suggest that 5G signals could be more harmful than sunlight, with the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection laying out safety guidelines based on decades of research which have demonstrated no public health risk. Covid-19 outbreaks have no correlation with 5G rollouts, with countries such as Iran reporting high infection rates despite having no 5G service.

Icke has reiterated these unfounded claims in a London Live interview, as well as claiming that governments requiring vaccinations against Covid-19 would be “fascism”.

Facebook – which has engaged in UK government discussions about coronavirus-related misinformation along with other major platforms – has taken a stand against Icke, removing his main Facebook page. The page had more than 770,000 followers. A secondary account ('David Icke – Headlines') with 68,000 followers remains active.

A screenshot taken by Icke and published on Twitter shows that Facebook notified him: “Your page has been unpublished for going against the Facebook Community Standards on health misinformation that could cause physical harm.”

Icke lashed out at Facebook, calling it “fascist” (a frequent insult used by Icke) for removing his account.

Facebook’s decision came soon after clinicians, charities and public figures threw their support behind a letter from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) telling social media platforms that they have a “moral duty” to give Icke the boot. According to the CCDH, Icke’s online audience and public recognition has grown significantly during the pandemic.

“While people around the world make enormous sacrifices to stall this pandemic, social media firms are instead profiting from the proliferation of misinformation on their platforms,” said CCDH CEO, Imran Ahmed. “Misinformation puts all of our lives at risk by encouraging the public not to comply with clinical guidance.

“It’s time to stop giving valuable airtime on their platform to the most dangerous voices and instead join with the rest of us in trying to contain this lethal pandemic. The reckless endangerment of public safety by greedy social media firms must stop.

“Facebook must now look at the vast network of pages and groups in which Icke’s content is shared.”

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