The arson attacks against 5G masts in the UK have become serious enough that carriers are joining together to put a stop to the incidents. EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have issued a joint statement both urging people not to set fire to cellular masts, threaten engineers or spread conspiracy theories falsely linking 5G to COVID-19. The networks also encouraged people to report abuse of engineers and call out people spreading misinformation.
As the companies reiterated, cell networks are critical in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. They provide “essential connectivity” to emergency services and the National Health Service, help connect families and enable remote education. The arson has disrupted “critical infrastructure,” the carriers said, and threats to engineers have “prevented essential network maintenance.”
The statement will only do so much to sway people who are already inclined to commit violence. However, it comes as YouTube is pulling 5G-linked coronavirus conspiracy videos, and as the UK’s culture secretary is planning to meet social media companies to curb the spread of conspiracies. There’s a concerted effort to set the record straight and prevent further attacks, and messages like this could help simply by underscoring the importance of that effort.