There are few things more dangerous than spreading conspiracy theories about coronavirus (COVID-19) during a pandemic. Misleading information can cause people to get hurt, get sick, or die. Fortunately, YouTube and Twitter are starting to make efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories, including the one about 5G.
YouTube has added policy regarding monetization and videos about COVID-19. Content must adhere to YouTube’s Advertiser-Friendly and Community Guidelines in order to be eligible for monetization. Breaking YouTube’s policies regarding coronavirus can also result in videos being removed.
The following things can result in a video losing eligibility for monetization:
Distressing Footage: Footage of people visibly suffering due to COVID-19.
Pranks & Challenges: Any COVID-19 related prank or challenge that promotes medically dangerous activities, such as purposeful exposure to the virus or incites panic. It includes the “licking toilet seat challenge”, coughing or sneezing on bystanders or food, and dressing in a hazmat suit and inspecting others.
Medical Misinformation: Content that misinforms users about health matters related to COVID-19. This includes content that encourages non-medical tests or exams for COVID-19, or false/unsubstantiated claims about the cause, promotion of dangerous remedies or cures, and origin or spread of COVID-19 that contradicts scientific consensus. The conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is spread by 5G is included as medical misinformation.
This is significant because, as The Guardian reported today, the UK government is to hold talks with social media platforms after mobile phone masts in Birmingham, Merseyside, and Belfast were set on fire by people who believe the conspiracy theory linking 5G networks to coronavirus.
In addition, broadband engineers have faced physical and verbal threats while trying to do their job. There is a clear link between people who fall for the 5G conspiracy theory and decide to abuse broadband engineers, and the risk of the physical and mental health of those workers. There is no evidence of a link between 5G and coronavirus.
Twitter updated its policies regarding COVID-19 and will remove tweets that include misinformation about global or local health authorities recommendations to decrease the spread of the virus, alleged cures (that may be ineffective or harmful), denial of established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period of COVID-19, or things that can cause widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder.
It sounds to me like the conspiracy theory about 5G causing coronavirus would count as “widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder.” People intentionally setting fires near where you live can easily cause widespread panic.