Google is looking to fight misinformation by banning ads on its Google Ads platform from containing content linking the coronavirus outbreak to the 5G network.
5G and coronavirus conspiracy theories continue to spread like wildfire, even though there have been no known links to 5G, or any radio wave, that is capable of spreading a virus.
Anti-5G propaganda is nothing new as many articles have floated throughout the years sporting false claims against the use of 5G technology, but with the world almost completely at a collective standstill, rumors are persisting to link the 2019/2020 outbreak of COVID-19 to the testing, expansion, and activation of the 5G network. Google is taking a stand by banning advertisements that display untrue medical information related to the coronavirus and 5G.
The stand comes after multiple attacks that have seen telecommunications company Vodafone lose 4 of its 5G towers. Despite government officials, scientists, and tech companies speaking out against the false connection between the spread of the coronavirus and 5G, rumors persist. Part of the ban is to prevent misinformation; however, it is also in place to help combat against companies using search terms during a public health crisis to profit off of the event. Another part of the Google family, YouTube, has been taking down videos that contain false coronavirus claims and 5G.
Conspiracies continue to run rampant through various channels online, particularly social media, but additional measures are being taken to prevent the spreading of misinformation. WhatsApp, a popular messaging app used by 1.5 billion active users across 180 countries, is working to prevent the spread of unfounded rumors by limiting message forwarding with messages that contain coronavirus conspiracies. Facebook has been flagging articles that may contain “fake news” with disclaimers to inform readers and continues to also fight against the same conspiracies we’ve mentioned.
Beyond the obvious negative effects of spreading misinformation, scams are rising related to the coronavirus and 5G. According to Buzzfeed, some conspiracy theorists are using this hoax to profit off of social media users. Believers are encouraged to purchase special USBs that can protect against the coronavirus and radiation from “harmful” 5G towers. The USBs not only don’t work, because again, there is no link between 5G and health issues or the coronavirus, but will also cost those who purchase these USBs $350.
The battle against misinformation will continue with 5G slated to have a huge year in 2020 and the full effects of the coronavirus still unknown. As companies work to balance free speech with the responsibility to ensure dialogues remain truthful, time will tell how online companies will be able to contain false rumors and the additional repercussions we may see to 5G networks from those who are unfortunately misguided.