Turnuri celulare arzatoare, de frica fara temei, raspandesc virusul (publicat in 2020)

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O teorie a conspiratiei care leaga raspandirea coronavirusului de tehnologia wireless 5G a provocat peste 100 de incidente in aceasta luna, au spus oficialii britanici.

Un turn de telecomunicatii avariat de incendiu in aceasta luna in Birmingham, Anglia.Credit … Carl Recine / Reuters

De Adam Satariano si Davey Alba

Publicat pe 10 aprilie 2020 Actualizat pe 11 aprilie 2020

LONDRA – Pe 2 aprilie, un turn fara fir a fost aprins in Birmingham. A doua zi, un incendiu a fost raportat la ora 22 intr-o cutie de telecomunicatii din Liverpool. O ora mai tarziu, a venit un apel de urgenta despre un alt turn de celule din Liverpool care se aprindea in flacari.

In toata Marea Britanie, peste 30 de acte de incendiu si vandalism au avut loc in aceasta luna impotriva turnurilor fara fir si a altor echipamente de telecomunicatii, potrivit rapoartelor politiei si a unui grup comercial de telecomunicatii. In aproximativ 80 de alte incidente din tara, tehnicienii din domeniul telecomunicatiilor au fost hartuiti la locul de munca.

Atacurile au fost alimentate de aceeasi cauza, au declarat oficialii guvernamentali: o teorie a conspiratiei pe internet care leaga raspandirea coronavirusului de o tehnologie wireless ultrarapida cunoscuta sub numele de 5G. Sub ideea falsa, care a castigat avant in grupurile de pe Facebook, mesajele WhatsApp si videoclipurile de pe YouTube, undele radio trimise de tehnologia 5G provoaca mici modificari in corpurile oamenilor care ii fac sa cedeze virusului.

Incidentele demonstreaza clar cum teoriile conspiratiei coronavirusului au luat o intorsatura intunecata, raspandindu-se in lumea reala. In doar cateva saptamani, pandemia a oferit ideilor on-line preexistente o noua urgenta, jucandu-se pe temerile oamenilor.

Inainte de coronavirus, rareori astfel de teorii au cauzat atat de repede un prejudiciu tangibil, au spus cercetatorii despre dezinformare.

In Statele Unite, o persoana a murit dupa ce s-a auto-medicat cu clorochina, care a fost promovata online ca un remediu miraculos pentru coronavirus, chiar daca eficacitatea sa nu este dovedita. Si dr. Anthony S. Fauci, seful Institutului National de Alergii si Boli Infectioase din SUA, a primit mai multa siguranta in aceasta luna, dupa ce s-au raspandit teorii nefondate ca ar fi facut parte dintr-o cabala secreta care lucreaza pentru a submina presedintele Trump.

„Majoritatea conspiratiilor raman online, dar acest lucru are un impact real”, a declarat Alexandre Alaphilippe, director executiv al DisinfoLab UE, un grup din Bruxelles care urmareste teoriile conspiratiei virusurilor. El a numit gestionarea dezinformarii pandemiei „o noua problema”, deoarece boala este globala si oamenii de pretutindeni cauta informatii.

Teoria falsa care leaga 5G de coronavirus a fost deosebit de proeminenta, amplificata de vedete precum John Cusack si Woody Harrelson pe social media. De asemenea, a fost provocat de un contingent vocal anti-5G, care a cerut oamenilor sa ia masuri impotriva echipamentelor de telecomunicatii pentru a se proteja.

Ideea are radacini adanci pe internet. O analiza a The New York Times a descoperit 487 de comunitati Facebook, 84 de conturi Instagram, 52 de conturi Twitter si alte zeci de postari si videoclipuri care imping conspiratia. Comunitatile Facebook au adaugat aproape jumatate de milion de noi adepti in ultimele doua saptamani. Pe Instagram, o retea de 40 de conturi aproape si-a dublat audienta in aceasta luna, la 58.800 de adepti.

Imagine

Protestatarii care purtau genti pentru a arata ca telefoanele mobile s-au adunat anul trecut la tehnologia 5G la Berna, Elvetia.Credit … Stefan Wermuth / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Pe YouTube, cele mai populare 10 videoclipuri de conspiratie pentru coronavirus 5G postate in martie au fost vizionate de peste 5,8 milioane de ori. Astazi, conspiratia poate fi gasita pe Facebook in peste 30 de tari, inclusiv Elvetia, Uruguay si Japonia.

Politicienii britanici au spus ca teoria conspiratiei si actele violente pe care le cauzeaza sunt inacceptabile.

“Aceasta este o prostie de cea mai inalta ordine absoluta”, a declarat Julian Knight, un membru al Parlamentului care conduce o comisie care investigheaza dezinformarea online legata de coronavirus. El a spus ca Facebook si YouTube trebuie sa „capteze” situatia sau risca sa submineze raspunsul la criza.

Domnul Knight a adaugat ca raspandirea conspiratiilor 5G a declansat alarme cu privire la modul in care informatiile despre un viitor vaccin impotriva coronavirusului ar fi diseminate.

„Daca ar fi sa primim un vaccin pentru Covid-19, putem avea incredere in companiile de social media pentru a ne asigura ca mesajele corecte de sanatate publica sunt difuzate cu privire la acel vaccin?” el a intrebat. „Asta ar putea fi o chestiune de viata si moarte pentru multi oameni.”

Facebook, care detine si Instagram si WhatsApp, a declarat ca „incepe sa elimine afirmatiile false ca tehnologia 5G provoaca simptomele sau contractia Covid-19”. YouTube a spus ca va reduce recomandarile videoclipurilor care leaga coronavirusul de 5G, in timp ce Twitter a spus ca a luat masuri impotriva continutului inselator si daunator cu privire la boala.

Afirmatiile salbatice despre 5G nu sunt noi. Tehnologia are o importanta politica extraordinara, deoarece poate oferi tarilor un avantaj competitiv, cu viteze wireless mai rapide care permit dezvoltarea mai rapida a masinilor fara sofer si alte inovatii.

Internet trolls have seized on 5G and its political implications to sow fear, leading to protests in the United States and elsewhere against the technology in recent years. Russians have pushed claims that 5G signals were linked to brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors and Alzheimer’s disease, all of which lacked scientific support.

In January, as the coronavirus rippled through Wuhan, China, and beyond, it provided new fodder for anti-5G trolls. On Jan. ssomgmt.ascd.org 19, a post on Twitter speculated on a link between 5G and the disease, according to Zignal Labs, a media insights company that studied 699,000 mentions of the conspiracy this year through April 7.

Image

Wires of a telecom tower that was damaged by fire in Birmingham this month.Credit..



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.Carl Recine/Reuters

“Wuhan has 5,000+ #5G base stations now and 50,000 by 2021 — is it a disease or 5G?” the tweet said.

On Jan. 22, an article on a Belgium news website included a comment from a physician claiming that 5G was harmful to people’s health. Though it did not specifically mention the coronavirus, the doctor mentioned a possible “link with current events.” The article, later deleted by the publisher, reached as many as 115,000 people, according to CrowdTangle, a tool that analyzes interactions across social media.

By last month, 5G-coronavirus claims on the web and television were rising, according to Zignal Labs. A YouTube video that connected the virus to 5G last month racked up roughly two million views before the site deleted it. And the singer Keri Hilson, as well as Mr. Harrelson and Mr. Cusack, posted online about the conspiracy.

“A lot of my friends have been talking about the negative effects of 5G,” Mr. Harrelson wrote on Instagram to his two million followers last week, sharing a screenshot of an article that drew links between the outbreak in Wuhan and 5G development there.

A representative for Mr. Harrelson, whose 5G posts have since been deleted, declined to comment. Ms. Hilson’s manager said her posts had been removed because “we feel that at this time it is important to focus on the things that we know are 100 percent accurate.”

After publication of this article, Mr. Cusack, through his publicist, said he was raising general health concerns about 5G; his 5G tweets have been deleted.

The conspiracy particularly resonated in Britain. In January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had given the Chinese technology company Huawei permission to set up 5G infrastructure in the country.

In recent weeks, conspiracy theorists began saying China’s lack of transparency on Covid-19 was evidence that Huawei should not be trusted to install 5G in Britain. Some went further and called for the destruction of wireless equipment.

“We need to bring 5G down,” said one person in the Facebook group Stop 5G U.K., which has more than 58,600 members.

After the British government issued shelter-in-place orders on March 23, some conspiracy theorists commented that it was a trick to secretly build 5G masts out of public view.

Image

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given the Chinese company Huawei permission to set up 5G infrastructure in Britain.Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times

On April 2, in one of the first 5G-coronavirus incidents, telecom equipment in a neighborhood of Belfast in Northern Ireland was set ablaze, according to local officials.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Carl Whyte, a Belfast City Council member. “They are seeing these conspiracy theories on social media and going out and destroying those masts.”

Word of the fire spread around the Belfast area. Richard Kerr, the minister at Templepatrick Presbyterian Church in nearby Ballyclare, said, “I was taken aback that it went to that level that people were prepared to commit arson.”

Other fires of telecom towers followed in Birmingham, Liverpool and elsewhere. Videos of burning equipment were shared and celebrated on Facebook. Some videos also showed telecom technicians being harassed.

“You know when they turn this on it’s going to kill everyone,” a woman said of 5G in a recent video on Twitter, as she confronted technicians laying fiber-optic cables in an unidentified British town.

Mark Steele, a prominent anti-5G activist in Britain, said the fires were a result of people being frustrated that their safety concerns weren’t taken seriously. Asked if he believed 5G was causing coronavirus, he said, “It’s looking a bit suspicious, don’t you think?”

Telecommunications companies, which have added more security and are working with law enforcement, said the attacks against their workers and equipment had been widespread, threatening communication networks during the crisis. Vodafone said it had experienced at least 15 incidents, while BT has had at least 11. The companies said that in many cases, vandals had damaged existing infrastructure and not new 5G gear. news.tochka.net

The police in Belfast, Liverpool and Birmingham said they were continuing to investigate the incidents, reviewing security-camera footage and asking the public for leads.

Anti-5G groups have continued adding hundreds of members. One Facebook user shared photos this week of a wireless tower being constructed in an unidentified area of Britain.

“Light it up,” one commenter responded.

Adam Satariano reported from London, and Davey Alba from New York. Ben Decker contributed research.

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