Explanation: 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory that incites people to set fire to telephone masts

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  • A bizarre new conspiracy theory links new 5G technology, which will increase mobile connectivity speeds, to the coronavirus epidemic.
  • Believers reportedly set fire to telephone masts and harassed engineers laying fiber optic cables in the UK.
  • The unfounded theory has been around on social media since at least January, but seems to have accelerated in the first week of April.
  • The British government and the telecommunications industry have been forced to face conspiracy theory.
  • Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.

A bizarre conspiracy linking 5G and the coronavirus has taken hold in the UK and is peddled by conspiracy theorists and celebrities on social media.

The theory works roughly like this: the deployment of faster 5G Internet causes or accelerates the spread of the coronavirus. It is difficult to pinpoint the source of the theory and BI first heard a variant of the rumor in early March, but it appears to have gained momentum in the first week of April.

The conspiracy theory and its various ramifications are baseless but have led to damage in the real world, with several arson attacks allegedly perpetrated on 5G masts across the country.

Here’s everything we know about how conspiracy theory started to circulate:

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