5G Is Causing the spread of Coronavirus Alongside The Pandemic

5 g tower

On Wednesday, actor Woody Harrelson posted about the conspiracy theory on his Instagram, writing, “a lot of my friends have been talking about the negative effects of 5G.” On Thursday, a 5G tower in Birmingham, England, went up in flames after a local Facebook group was flooded with anti-5G comments. (Local authorities said that it could have possibly been an electrical issue, but are awaiting further information before investigating.)

5G has so far rolled out in about 40 countries worldwide, most notably South Korea and China, but also in dozens of US cities, including Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

Before the coronavirus, fears about 5G tended to focus on cancer, the risk of which people feared could be increased from cellphone radiation. The evidence to support such a fear is weak to nonexistent, although meteorologists have worried that the technology could disrupt weather satellite forecasts.

Misinformation falsely claiming the coronavirus is a bioweapon has circulated since English-language reports of the outbreak began circulating in January. Depending on which internet rabbit hole you fall down, the coronavirus was created by the Chinese government, is part of a human depopulation scheme by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, or stemmed from a tainted batch of children’s blood that the world’s celebrities drink to stay young.

So perhaps it was somewhat inevitable that these two separate conspiracy theories — that 5G had some evil purpose and that the coronavirus was a bioweapon — would graft themselves onto each other.

The ever-changing nature of the global pandemic has meant that groups like New Agers, right-wingers, and conspiracy theorists, along with other misinformation communities, are both seeing huge internet traffic and need to reinvent their belief systems to fit the outbreak. These parallel news cycles give their followers a twisted, but orderly, sense of control in a genuinely chaotic moment.

According to five years’ worth of Facebook sharing data via social metrics site BuzzSumo, the majority of the most-shared links on the platform about the “dangers” of 5G are YouTube videos that were all published in the last year, starting around the same time that the British telecom company EE announced 5G service in six cities across the United Kingdom.

The UK’s early push into 5G cellular coverage has led to an especially active British anti-5G movement. In 2018, the Democrats and Veterans Party, an offshoot of the British far-right political party UKIP, hosted at their party conference British YouTuber and conspiracy theorist Mark Steele, whose speech on the dangers of 5G is featured regularly in conspiracy theory videos. The dangers of 5G were also a major talking point in the 2019 election for UKIP and its supporters.

One of the largest Facebook groups for the movement is the Stop 5G U.K. group, which has over 50,000 members, where rumors that the tower had been set on fire on purpose spread as soon as Friday.

“People setting fire to 5G towers in Birmingham,” one commenter wrote.

“Get me a saw, I’ll cut the fuckers down, the elite have had this planned for years, people are starting to wonder now, we all need to stand up and be counted,” another commenter replied.

And a video by a supposed former manager at British telecom company Vodafone, based in the UK, went viral, claiming COVID-19 wasn’t a disease caused by a virus but rather the human immune system reacting to 5G radiation.

The most-shared video on Facebook about 5G was published in June 2019 by the YouTube channel Yebo, and it has 3.8 million views on YouTube and 270,000 shares on Facebook. It purports to be a video leaked from a whistleblower who works on 5G cellular towers — who wears a Make America Great Again hat in the video — warning people about the technology’s dangers.

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