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Video does not show 5G wireless equipment labeled “COV-19”

May 20, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows “COV-19” is inscribed on equipment for 5G wireless towers. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The circuit board filmed in the video is from a nearly decade old television box. A representative with Virgin Media, a British telecommunications company confirmed to The Associated Press that the device never had “COV-19” printed on it. 

THE FACTS: Last week, a video circulated on Facebook where a man filmed himself wearing a hard hat and a face mask. He claims he has been installing “5G masts.” He holds up a circuit board with “COV-19” inscribed on the device. 

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“We don’t crack open these kits because we’re explicitly asked not to, but perhaps the best thing is for me to show you,” he says in the video.  He goes on to say he is not aware of any company that “produces circuitry like this that has the brand name COV-19…I’ve read all that stuff online about coronavirus and COVID-19.” 

Several users on Facebook shared the false video. “Must See Worker Exposes Circuit Boards Being Installed in 5G Towers Whats on Them Will Surprise You !!!!” stated one post sharing the video.  

One part of the video shows that “HannStar J MV-1” is clearly written on the circuit board. HannStar is a Taiwanese company that produces parts for monitors, notebooks and televisions. 

The circuit board held up by the man in the video is not part of 5G technology, but belongs to an old TV box. Virgin Media told The Associated Press in an email that the part is from a 9-year-old TV box. 

“That is a board from a very old set top TV box, and which never featured any component parts inscribed/stamped/printed or otherwise with COV 19. It has absolutely no relation with any mobile network infrastructure, including that used for 5G,” Simon Dornan, a spokesman for Virgin Media, told the AP. 

The representative said that the hardware looks like the Cisco 4585 HD (non-PVR) set top box, which was supplied to customers in 2011 but was discontinued a few years ago. 

Virgin Media tracked down some of those parts and sent The Associated Press photos confirming that COV-19 was never inscribed on them. The company said the inscription shown in the video was added to the RF Tuner component part, which is where the coaxial TV cable is connected. 

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In recent months, conspiracy theories falsely linking coronavirus to 5G wireless have circulated widely online.

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Rafael Cabrera contributed to this report from Mexico City. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536