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



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.



5G Conspiracy Theories labeled a ‘Complete rubbish’

False theories are being spread on smaller platforms such as Nextdoor, Pinterest and the petitions site 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 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.

More Article Trends on, 5G conspiracies, COVID-19 and 5G, COVID-19 pandemic, has had a surge in search on Search Engines

Business Africa

Fuel scarcity looms as NUPENG threatens FG With Strike



fuel scarcity looms as NUPENG threatens FG With Strike

The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) has issued a two-week strike notice to the federal government, raising the possibility of fuel scarcity across the country in the coming weeks.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by NUPENG President, Williams Akhoreha, and General Secretary, Olawale Afolabi, Monday.

The union said the notice of strike was one of the decisions reached at its special national delegates conference Thursday.

It listed non-payment of workers’ salaries and benefits, among others, as reasons for its resolution.

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One of the issues, NUPENG said, was the outstanding payment of terminal benefits to its members that were declared redundant in 2012 by the management of Chevron Nigeria limited.

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LCCI pushes for growth in intra-African trade



LCCI pushes for growth in intra-African trade

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said it aims to promote intra-African trade at the 35th edition of its annual Lagos International Trade Fair.

The Director-General of the LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona, said in a statement on Wednesday that this year’s edition would feature business-to-business meetings simultaneously with the general interest fair.

She said, the focus this year is to encourage intra-African trade and position Africa as the preferred investment destination and an economic powerhouse adding that The exhibition will also facilitate networking amongst exhibitors and between exhibitors and visitors.

She said corporate organisations, including multinational corporations, indigenous conglomerates, financial institutions, and small and medium businesses, had indicated interest in participating at the fair and relevant agencies and departments of government would also be available to exhibit and attend to other exhibitors and visitors.

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She said agencies that had confirmed attendance to provide information and educate exhibitors and visitors were the Bank of Industry and Nigerian Export Promotion Council, among others.

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NEPC Empowers 60 Osun SMES for Export Business



NEPC Empowers 60 Osun SMES for Export Business

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council has organised a workshop for over 60 operators of Small and Medium-scale Enterprises in Osun State on how to make their products fit for export.

The workshop, which was held in Osogbo, was tagged ‘Facilitating strategic export market access programme in collaboration with the trade support institutions.’

The Assistant Director, Policy and Strategy Department, NEPC, Aliu Saddique, said the participants were SMEs owners with the potential to export to the international market.

He said the council was using the model developed by the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries to train the participants so as to enable them to have a good understanding of the demands of the international market.

While speaking, The Osun State Commissioner for Commerce, Cooperatives, Industries and Empowerment, Dr. Bode Olaonipekun, called for serious planning ahead of the time when crude oil would no longer bring revenue for the country again.

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Olaonipeokun, who also blamed the current economic hardship on the neglect of non-oil export, said planning for the era without oil must start immediately to avert economic crises.

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