Disinformation research shows false links between COVID-19 and 5G continue to be the most commonly seen misinformation
- The latest wave of Ofcom’s disinformation research shows false links between COVID-19 and 5G continue to be the most commonly seen misinformation. Its latest EMF (electromagnetic field) measurements show levels at 5G sites are well within agreed international safety measures. Ofcom’s misinformation resources can help you to navigate the news and information about Covid-19, focusing on how to debunk common misconceptions or harmful claims about the coronavirus.
In recent weeks, Ofcom has published the latest results from its spectrum measurement programme, including six additional 5G mobile sites.
Following the launch of 5G in the UK last year, Ofcom published the results of electromagnetic field (EMF) measurements at 16 UK sites, in February. We have continued our testing programme since then and have now published an updated version of our 5G measurement report showing EMF levels at a total of 22 5G sites in 10 UK cities. At every site, we found that these EMF levels are well within agreed international safety levels – as set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
The maximum measured at any mobile site was approximately 1.5% of those levels – including signals from other mobile technologies such as 3G and 4G. The highest level from 5G signals specifically was 0.039% of the maximum set out in the international guidelines.
Worryingly, some areas of the country have seen mobile phone masts vandalised because misinformation is leading people to incorrectly blame 5G for the spread of coronavirus. This poses a serious threat to people’s ability to contact the emergency services, as well as stay in touch with friends and loved ones.
Ofcom takes the issue of misinformation very seriously. It is vital that citizens and consumers have access to accurate, trustworthy and credible sources of news and information, particularly in times such as these. In line with Ofcom’s role in helping to better understand the spread of false or misleading information about Covid-19, we have been publishing a weekly online survey about how people are getting news and information about the virus. The latest wave of coronavirus news research reveals that false links between 5G and coronavirus continue to be the most commonly seen pieces of misinformation. 30% of people now actively avoid the news about the pandemic. This research can be found here. This underlines the importance of tackling misinformation in all its forms; and we will continue to work closely with Government in this area. Alongside the survey, we have also published a set of resources which help to provide your constituents with the tools to navigate news and information about Covid-19, focusing on how to debunk common misconceptions or harmful claims about the coronavirus. We encourage you to share this resource on your social media page or add a link to your own website.
In the broadcasting space, Ofcom is prioritising all COVID-related complaints and investigations following a rise in broadcast standards complaints. In recent weeks, we have imposed a sanction on ESTV after an interview with David Icke on its local television channel London Live included potentially harmful content about the Coronavirus pandemic. Separately, we have issued guidance to ITV and its presenters following comments made by Eamonn Holmes on This Morning about misinformation around Covid-19 and 5G technology. We will continue to take swift action in relation to coronavirus-related misinformation.