As with many new and emerging technologies, the advent of 5G network coverage has raised many concerns among people all over the world, so much so, that some anti-5G movements have been emerging in various countries across the globe in recent months.
Coincidentally, the rolling out of 5G network coverage across the globe – the newest technology standard for wireless networks -coincided with the spread of one of the biggest global pandemic, the Covid-19 global pandemic. When 5G was launched in China on November 1, 2019, people started dropping dead.
As the ruthless virus tightened its grip on a world, which was still struggling to understand the enormity and repercussions of the virus, people started concocting their narratives.
They started speculating on the various reasons why the coronavirus was spreading like a bush fire in the savannah. The main conspiracy theory was hinged towards the spread of 5G connectivity.
Many extreme right-wing groups have been at the forefront in developing some audacious conspiracy theories linking 5G to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people may be immune to the absurdities of conspiracy theories; however, some hardcore believers are very willing to burn down the infrastructure.
Some activists have even gone as far as burning down telecommunication towers in the Netherlands, Belgium, and more recently in Quebec. So far, there have been over 30 incidents across Europe with the words “Fuck 5G” boldly inscribed on the scenes of the attack.
Additionally, with the initial spread of the virus, the 5G conspiracy theories have found traction on social media networks. These theories have mostly festered on anti -5G Facebook groups like the “ Stop 5G Global community “, which has been active for close to one year with 8,000 active members. There is also the three-year-old “Lawful Stop5G Rebellion No violence”, with 35, 000 members on Facebook. YouTube and Twitter have also been hotspots for spreading the Corona 5G propaganda.
Debunking the Major 5G and coronavirus conspiracy theories
Outlined below, read on to find out the most persuasive false claims about 5G and the spread of coronavirus and look at how far they have traveled.
1. 5G is the main cause of COVID-19.
In March 2019, DR Thomas Cowan, a US-based doctor on disciplinary probation, claimed that the 5G radio waves, poisoned the body cells, forcing them to excrete wastes, which eventually became COVID-19.
These claims were shared with the rest of the world in form of a video file and were reposted by several celebrities including the former richest man on earth- Bill Gates.
However, several scientists who questioned the validity of the evidence, that prompted YouTube to remove the controversial videos, also disproved the video.
According to scientists, Virus is not debris, and cannot be created as a way to deal with poisons in our body. They have been able to recreate the virus in a lab, thus disproving the notion that they are a secretion from human cells.
In his controversial video, Cowan also claimed that the emergence of the Spanish flu coincided with the first commercial radio waves in 1920. He claimed that since Wuhan was ground zero for CoVID-19, and the first city to have 5G connectivity was further proof of the link between the spread of the virus and 5G connectivity.
According to virologists, this claim was a fantasy, and while the Doctor might present himself as a thought leader in the field, more in-depth research into his work history presented a questionable character mired with investigations by the medical board of California for using unlicensed drugs. He was also shunned for writing books that promote ideas that are contrary to conventional medical procedures as well as campaigning for the anti-vaccination movement.
2. 5G is an accelerator for the Coronavirus.
This is perhaps the most significant theories about 5G and the spread of the coronavirus and has been gaining traction in recent days.
As with conspiracy theories, it can be very daunting to trace the pseudoscience back to its origin, and this outrageous claim is a perfect example. Even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the idea that 5G connectivity can suppress the immune system was a popular point of discussion among tech critics and was given a new life with the fast spread of COVID-19.
According to the conspiracy theory, radiation from mobile communications affects the human body on a molecular level. This suggests ionizing radiation, which can inhibit the immune system. Consequently, the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the globe is due to the presence of 5G technology, thus preventing the body from combating the virus.
As emphasized by the Cornell Alliance for Science, there is no empirical evidence linking 5G technology to the spread of the coronavirus. It is purely coincidental if an area becomes a COVID-19 hotspot in an area with a 5G antennae.
Unfortunately, people have been eating up this conspiracy theory. In fact, in Hong Kong, a video has been circulating on social media, suggesting that people have been revolting against 5G. While video evidence is hard to refute, as it turns out the protests took place a while back before the onset of the pandemic. The video ended up being an inspiration for criminals who are vandalizing telecom masts across the world.
The above-mentioned instances are examples of why conspiracy theories work. While looking for an explanation, most individuals are only satisfied when a conspiracy theory seemingly answers all their questions and dispels their fear. By not absorbing all the information, such people rely on incomplete data to conclude.
Conspiracy theorists were quick to mention that Cities such as Paris, London, and Wuhan (the ground zero of COVID-19) had the 5G antennas, but also failed to mention other countries like Ecuador or Iran. These countries were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but lack 5G connectivity. Not only is there insufficient scientific data to support the conspiracy theory, but the claims are also baseless.
How to Combat Conspiracy Theories
Simple, educate the masses. Some people may believe conspiracy theories because that is how they are inclined but others believe them because they are the only available explanations at a specific time.
The Telecoms industry thrust 5G onto the world without explaining what exactly it entails, how and why it is different, how it works, and why the world needs it. Without Telcos explaining network and user trends, some important questions like why money is being spent on 5G while 4G is still very much functional are arising.
The best way to debunk conspiracy theories is through fact and logic. In the case of the coronavirus and 5G connectivity, telecommunication companies need to present data in a way that demonstrates why the conspiracy theories are nonsensical. They should also mention the drivers of 5G, as well as ensure that there is no resurgence.
When the public understands that the objectives behind 5G are not evil, the conspiracy theories will seem absurd to society as they do to the telecommunication industry insiders.
We all need to refrain from spreading baseless theories and rely on scientifically based evidence. These fake theories only serve to cause despair and unnecessary technophobia. We could all lose on the myriad benefits that these new technologies can offer us in the end.