Twitter to guide users to 5G facts in search results

Twitter is to begin directing people who search for 5G-related information to official Government guidance which debunks conspiracy theories linking the technology to coronavirus.

Phone masts in the UK have been attacked after disproven theories that 5G technology was linked to the outbreak circulated online.

Conspiracy theorist David Icke has also been removed from both Facebook and YouTube for breaching rules on misinformation after promoting the theory.

Claims that 5G is linked to the disease have been widely discredited by experts, with scientists describing the theory as “both a physical and biological impossibility”, while the mobile industry has branded it “utter rubbish”.

Twitter has said it will soon start to serve those who search for 5G-related posts on the platform a message which confirms the UK Government has seen no link between 5G and Covid-19, and encourage them to click through to the official guidance on the issue.

Twitter's 5G prompt which will appear at the top of search results about the technology on the platform.
Twitter's 5G prompt which will appear at the top of search results about the technology on the platform.

The prompt will come with the headline “know the facts”.

Culture Secretary Oliver Downden said: “We have set up a new counter disinformation unit and are working with the social media platforms to make sure the public has access to reliable information during the coronavirus crisis and to give us a much better picture of where disinformation is spreading.

“This move by Twitter directing users to official Government advice is a step in the right direction as part of this work.”

Twitter and other social networks have previously introduced information centres at the top of search results which link to official health advice and information on Covid-19 as part of attempts to stop the spread of disinformation around the virus.

However, tech giants have also been accused of not doing enough to stop such content spreading, with the Government pushing them to do more to identify and remove disinformation.

Katy Minshall, head of government, public policy and philanthropy at Twitter UK said: “We continue our focus on connecting people with authoritative information regarding Covid-19.

“Today, through a partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), we launched a new on-service prompt in the UK that will direct people to a Government webpage with credible, factual and verified information relating to 5G.

“Our partnerships throughout this pandemic have allowed us to take proactive steps in bringing people the information most relevant and useful for them, and we’re happy to add this update today in collaboration with DCMS in the UK.”