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COVID-19: Technology firms summoned over ‘crackpot’ 5G conspiracies

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5G conspiracies | COVID-19 pandemic
Technology firms summoned over 'crackpot' 5G conspiracies

COVID-19: Technology firms summoned over ‘crackpot’ 5G conspiracies

Oliver James Dowden a British politician who has served as Culture Secretary is to order social media companies to be more aggressive in their response to conspiracy theories linking 5G networks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oliver James Dowden plans to hold important meetings with representatives from diverse technology firms next week to discuss the matter.

It follows a number of 5G masts apparently being set on fire.

The issue will test the companies’ commitments to free speech.

 

Earlier in the week, blazes were reported at masts in Birmingham, Liverpool and Melling in Merseyside.

A spokesman for Vodafone’s mobile network told the BBC there had been a total of four further incidents over the past 24 hours at both its own sites and those shared with O2, but did not identify the locations.

“We have received several reports of criminal damage to phone masts and abuse of telecoms engineers apparently inspired by crackpot conspiracy theories circulating online,” a spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told the BBC.

“Those responsible for criminal acts will face the full force of the law.

“We must also see social media companies acting responsibly and taking much swifter action to stop nonsense spreading on their platforms which encourages such acts.”

DCMS has yet to confirm which tech companies are being summoned.

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5G Conspiracy Theories labeled a ‘Complete rubbish’

False theories are being spread on smaller platforms such as Nextdoor, Pinterest and the petitions site Change.org as well as larger ones including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok.

Scientists have said the idea of a connection between COVID-19 and 5G is “complete rubbish” and biologically impossible.

Several of the platforms have already taken steps to address the problem but have not banned discussion of the subject outright.

Pinterest, for example, limits its search results for coronavirus and related terms to showing pinned information from recognized health organizations but does not have a comparable restriction for 5G.

Facebook said it had also removed a number of groups that were encouraging attacks on 5G masts.

However, a post entitled “burn baby burn – it’s begun”, which accompanied videos of telecoms equipment ablaze, was only taken down about six hours after it was flagged to the company’s press office.

YouTube bans some types of bogus posts about COVID-19 pandemic, but classes conspiracy theories linking the virus to 5G as “borderline content”, i;e 5G conspiracies are classified as “Borderline Content”.

As a result, it said it tries to reduce the frequency its algorithms recommend them but does not delete the videos from its platform.

A spokeswoman for the Google-owned service said it intended to “evaluate the impact” of this approach. It did, however, remove one video flagged by the BBC that featured threatening language.

Different Points of Views on COVID-19 Pandemic Linked with 5G conspiracies

Change.org said its open nature allowed anyone to set up a petition about any issue they cared about but added they must comply with its guidelines to stay online.

“We have removed a number of petitions making unsubstantiated health claims about 5G from the platform,” a spokeswoman added.

Vodafone has said the attacks are “now a matter of national security”.

“It beggars belief that some people should want to harm the very networks that are providing essential connectivity to the emergency services, the NHS, and rest of the country during this difficult lockdown period,” wrote UK chief executive Nick Jeffery.

“It also makes me angry to learn that some people have been abusing our engineers as they go about their business.

“Online stories connecting the spread of coronavirus to 5G are utterly baseless. Please don’t share them on social media – fake news can have serious consequences.”

The GSMA – a trade body that represents the wider mobile industry – also urged social media and other content-hosting providers to “accelerate their efforts to remove fake news” relating to the problem.

The campaign against 5G has been flourishing on social media for the last year.

Facebook, in particular, has been full of groups claiming the technology is dangerous, with many of them also pushing anti-vaccine messages.

Until recently, apart from the odd fact-checking message alongside posts, the companies have done little to combat this trend. Neither Twitter nor YouTube, for instance, has an option in their reporting systems to flag misinformation.

Even on Friday, complaints to Facebook moderators about a group that appeared to encourage arson attacks on 5G masts received replies saying the page did “not violate our community standards” – although after the BBC contacted Facebook’s press office it was taken down.

In normal times, social media platforms are very reluctant to curb what they regard as an essential part of their mission: giving people the right to free expression, however outlandish or unscientific their views.

But these are not normal times.

The government is effectively waging a war against a deadly virus, and keyworkers looking after vital infrastructure are facing abuse, possibly inspired by these social media campaigners.

That means there is now intense pressure on the likes of Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter to combat what one minister has called “dangerous nonsense” – and they will want to be seen to be acting responsibly, even if some of their users cry censorship.

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Namibia Bans Cattle Movement Following Food, Mouth Disease Outbreak

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Namibia bans cattle movement following food, mouth disease outbreak Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/10/namibia-bans-cattle-movement-following-food-mouth-disease-outbreak/

Namibia has placed a ban on the movement of all cloven-hoofed animals and their products in the country’s Kavango East region after an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) was confirmed.

In a statement, the executive director of  Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture Percy Misika said that Namibia had detected a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the FMD protection zone.

The Executive Director added that all movement of animals across the Namibian or Angolan international borders has also been suspended.

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“All animal gatherings such as auctions and cultural shows are suspended including the slaughtering of cloven-hoofed animals except vaccinations,” Misika said.

Misika said surveillance teams have been sent to the region to establish the extent of the outbreak and So far, investigations by officials showed that 13 out of 657 cattle tested positive for FMD.

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President Buhari Warns ECOWAS Against Tenure Elongation

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President Buhari Warns ECOWAS Against Tenure Elongation

President Muhammadu Buhari has strongly warned that with the enormous socio-economic and security challenges confronting west Africa, the sub- region cannot afford another political crisis in the guise of tenure elongation.

Buhari said this while addressing the 57th Extraordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Niamey, the Republic of Niger.

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“It is important that as leaders of our individual member states of ECOWAS, we need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits. This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region.

“As it is, the challenges facing the sub-region are enormous; from socio-economic matters to security issues, the ECOWAS sub-region cannot therefore afford another political crisis, in the guise of tenure elongation,’’ he said.

He also expressed worry over the premature adoption of ECO as a single currency by French speaking West African Countries, stressing the need for them to return to the agreed roadmap.

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Nigerian Stocks Beat Global Slowdown With N154B Gain

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Nigerian Stocks Beat Global Slowdown With N154B Gain

Nigerian stocks continued to increase as investors took advantage of low share prices and continued to buy bargain stocks throughout the week, resulting in the stock price closing with an average return (increase) of 1.17% at the weekend, the second highest gain among global advanced and emerging markets. Kenya recorded an average return (increase) of 3.4%

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Trading reports at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) at the weekend showed the overall consensus across the market was for buying stocks across major sectors as investors continued to react positively to news of how much money is being made by companies in the first half of 2020. The benchmark index for Nigerian equities, the All Share Index (ASI), closed weekend with average increase of 1.17 per cent, equivalent to a net increase across all the shares in the index of N154 billion

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#COVID19NIGERIA Situation Report

The #COVID19Nigeria situation report for 21st July, 2020 has been published. Our daily reports provide a summary of the epidemiological situation & response activities in Nigeria

The #COVID19Nigeria situation report for 21st July, 2020 has been published. Our daily reports provide a summary of the epidemiological situation & response activities in Nigeria

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The African Union and Africa CDC will virtually rollout the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) in Africa tomorrow 4 June, 2020 at 11.00 am Eastern Africa Time.

The African Union and Africa CDC will virtually rollout the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) in Africa tomorrow 4 June, 2020 at 11.00 am Eastern Africa Time.

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