5G has no connection with COVID-19 but false conspiracy theories persist

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Some people have targeted 5G for fear of its health effects. But that did not cause the coronavirus.

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As the coronavirus swept the world, as did rumors about what caused it and how it spread. The one that persists online is that 5G networks caused the disease. A new one involves vaccines somehow related to 5G tracking. Both are completely wrong. Radio waves cannot create viruses, which is what causes COVID-19. And if someone wanted to follow you, your phone is a more likely culprit than radio transmitters which are way too big to fit in a syringe.

But that didn’t stop threats against broadband engineers and possible arson attacks on UK telephone towers, prompting UK operators to ask people to stop burning the towers and the national medical director of the UK. UK to call 5G conspiracy theory “total garbage”. “The US Department of Homeland Security issued a warning last year about the potential threat to wireless equipment. Communication networks are essential in the fight against the pandemic.

The COVID-19 conspiracy theory has spread across social media. Keri Hilson, an American singer with 4.2 million Twitter followers, sent out several tweets in April 2020 that attempted to link the coronavirus to 5G. She wrote: “People have been trying to warn us about 5G for YEARS. Petitions, organizations, studies… what we are going through are the effects. [sic] radiation. Launch of 5G in CHINA. November 1, 2019. People died. “

That same month, actor Woody Harrelson became the latest celebrity to falsely connect 5G to the coronavirus. He shared an article in an Instagram post, saying that while he hadn’t “fully verified” the rumors linking 5G to the pandemic sweeping the world, “I find that very interesting.”

Others on YouTube and Facebook, including an anti-5G Facebook group, have also shared false claims. But YouTube that month said it would delete 5G-coronavirus hoax videos, implementing a ban a day after stopping just before that. Twitter has started tagging tweets containing the hoax and adding links to legitimate news sources (but it’s had problems).

“We are committed to providing timely and useful information at this critical time, including elevating authoritative content, reducing the spread of harmful disinformation and posting information signs, using data from the NHS and the WHO, to help fight disinformation, “YouTube said in a statement. “Now, any content that disputes the existence or transmission of COVID-19, as described by the WHO and local health authorities, is in violation of YouTube policies. This includes conspiracy theories that claim the symptoms are caused by 5G. “


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Facebook also said it was removing posts that inaccurately connect 5G to the coronavirus.

“We are taking aggressive measures to prevent disinformation and harmful content from spreading across our platforms and to connect people to accurate information about the coronavirus,” the company said in a statement. “As part of our existing policies against harmful disinformation, we are starting to remove false claims that link COVID-19 to 5G technology and could lead to physical harm. “

In March 2020, a Facebook user named Ben Mackie falsely linked 5G to the coronavirus, claiming in part that it was not in fact a virus. “They are trying to scare you of a fake ass virus as 5G towers are built around the world,” he said. He also claimed that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates invented the technology and that it was an effort to depopulate the world. And Mackie said the vaccines being developed for the coronavirus are actually microchips that will be implanted in humans.

(Editor’s Note: We don’t link to these articles because they contain lies.)

These claims were refuted by UK fact-checker FullFact, and other experts stepped in.

“This 5G story has no scientific credibility and is certainly a potential distraction, like other misinformation, from controlling the COVID-19 epidemic,” said Dr. Jonathan M. Samet, Dean of Colorado School of Public Health.

Brendan Carr, who sits on the Federal Communications Commission, tweeted that Hilson’s efforts to link 5G to the coronavirus “come straight from the most dangerous depths of the land of tinfoil hats.” He noted that COVID-19 is caused by a virus that spreads through person-to-person contact, not radio waves, and he reiterated that the FCC, Food and Drug Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency all say that 5G is safe.

5G is the new ultra-fast wireless technology being deployed around the world. In the United States, 5G networks are available nationwide. 5G is also available in a number of other countries, such as China, South Korea, Germany, and the UK. Technology is about to change the way we live and should power everything from self-driving cars to advanced augmented reality experiences. The belief is that whoever takes the lead in 5G, they will rule the world for decades to come and possibly longer.

5G health issues?

But since companies started talking about 5G, some people have expressed concerns about the impact of technology on health. One version of 5G, called the millimeter wave, operates on very high frequency radio waves. These signals cannot travel long distances, requiring towers to be brought together and installed in multiple locations. This has rekindled concerns that the radio waves could produce harmful radiation that can cause brain cancer, reduced fertility, headaches and other illnesses.

The FDA and FCC say there is nothing to worry about as studies have not found a link between radio frequency signals from cell phones or cell phone towers and disease. But because 5G is so new, there is no definitive way to know whether it will cause long term health problems.

What we can say for sure is that 5G does not cause or spread a virus.

“It’s a ridiculous concept,” said John Bucher, senior scientist with the National Toxicology Program, a US interagency health and human services program dedicated to testing and evaluating substances in our environment. “Every year you get a new strain of flu circulating. That’s what viruses do – mutate and move around that way, probably for as long as there’s been life.”

A coronavirus is a type of virus that is spread by person-to-person contact. It doesn’t travel through something like radio waves. You cannot get it by using your phone or watching TV, unless the phone itself or the remote control is contaminated with the coronavirus. This new coronavirus belongs to the Coronaviridae family. They look like sharp rings when viewed under an electron microscope and are named for these spikes, which form a halo or “crown” (corona means “crown”) in Latin around their viral envelope.

The coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The virus, originally known as 2019-nCoV, was reported to the World Health Organization on December 31 and has been under investigation since. Other coronaviruses include SARS and MERS. In mid-March, the World Health Organization called the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, and the spread of the virus has caused countries around the world, including the United States, to take drastic measures like lockdowns.

One point addressed by the 5G coronavirus theories is that COVID-19 came from China because that is where most of the towers of the 5G network are located. While China has services in many areas, 5G arrived in South Korea and parts of the United States first. The United States has not seen a significant number of coronaviruses until the past two weeks. COVID-19 has also spread to areas without 5G, such as Iran and Japan.

“There does not appear to be any dispute that animals are the source of the coronavirus, according to experts like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control,” said CTIA, the trade association for the health care industry. wire.

This is not the first time that 5G has been the target of conspiracy theories. Russia, which sowed disinformation and influenced the 2016 US presidential election, has included 5G among its target areas. Russian government-funded broadcaster RT America released a report a year ago called “5G Wireless: A Dangerous ‘Experiment on Humanity’” which sought to instill fear about the technology. The New York Times said at the time that it was a Russian effort to slow the US push for 5G.

CNET’s Maggie Reardon, Richard Nieva and Queenie Wong contributed to this report.


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