How conspiracy theorists peddled claims 5G technology spreads Covid

How conspiracy theorists peddled ‘complete rubbish’ claims that 5G technology spreads coronavirus that has seen attacks on masts and ‘fuelled Nashville Christmas bomber’s paranoia’

  • From January conspiracy theorists made claims the coronavirus was linked to 5G
  • Thugs attacked phone towers in the UK, Europe, US and other parts of the world
  • Only last week a conspiracy theorist bomber attacked AT&T building in Nashville
  • Yet experts have assured people the pandemic had no links to the roll out of 5G

The devastating coronavirus crisis that has ripped across the world this year has fulled the rise of the phrase ‘the new normal’ as people adapted to a different way of living.

But as the wave of the pandemic rolled from the Far East to the West it also catalysed a surge in more abnormal thinking and behaviour.

As early as January conspiracy theorists made unsubstantiated claims the virus was caused or helped by 5G masts, which were being built to support the new wireless technology that quickens internet speed.

Thugs attacked mobile phone towers in the UK, Europe, the US and other parts of the world over fears they were hampering their health.

Meanwhile only last week a bomber attacked an AT&T building in Nashville in the US on Christmas Day, possibly spurred on by his belief 5G cellular technology was killing people.

Yet throughout the year concerns have been constantly addressed as expert after expert came out assuring them the coronavirus pandemic had no links to the roll out of 5G.

Groups such as The Action Against mobile group were joined by well-known conspiracy theorists such as former footballer David Icke (pictured) and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers during the pandemic

As the wave of the pandemic rolled from the Far East to the West it also catalysed a surge in more abnormal thinking and behaviour

Conspiracy theories have run rampant on social media sites such as Facebook (pictured) during the pandemic

Top scientists brand 5G conspiracy theories as ‘complete rubbish’ and ‘the worst kind of fake news’

Top scientists have branded 5G conspiracy theories as ‘complete rubbish’ and ‘the worst kind of fake news’.

NHS England Medical Director Stephen Powis, Dr Simon Clarke of Reading University and Adam Finn from Bristol University said in April the suggestions were wrong.

Professor Powis branded the idea ‘the worst kind of fake news’.

Dr Clarke, an associate professor in cellular microbiology, told the BBC: ‘The idea that 5G lowers your immune system doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

‘Your immune system can be dipped by all sorts of thing – by being tired one day, or not having a good diet. Those fluctuations aren’t huge but can make you more susceptible to catching viruses.

‘Radio waves can disrupt your physiology as they heat you up, meaning your immune system can’t function. But [the energy levels from] 5G radio waves are tiny and they are nowhere near strong enough to affect the immune system. There have been lots of studies on this.’

Paediatrics professor Finn added: ‘The present epidemic is caused by a virus that is passed from one infected person to another. We know this is true. We even have the virus growing in our lab, obtained from a person with the illness. Viruses and electromagnetic waves that make mobile phones and internet connections work are different things. As different as chalk and cheese.’    

Conspiracy theories over mobile networks have a long history, with protesters regularly ripping down 3G base stations near schools and homes back in the early 1990s.

In those days people feared the masts were a cancer risk and whether there was enough testing conducted – claims also hurled against WiFi as it was unveiled around the same time.

Even before Covid-19 emerged in December last year large swathes of people were already fearful of the health dangers posed by the installation of 5G.

One of the first targeted attacks on a mast came in 2018 when a man scaled a lamppost to tear down what he thought was a 5G antenna in Gateshead.

Later, in May last year, a picture of a man wearing a hazmat radiation suit – supposedly to install a deadly 5G tower in the US – was thought to actually be a cleaner or painter sprucing up the mast and covered up due to bird droppings or liquid splash back.

And just before the coronavirus struck, in December 2019, conspiracy theories went rampant online after images of hundreds of dead starlings were shared on a road in North Wales.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that conspiracy theorists leapt on the coronavirus pandemic to peddle yet more negative claims about 5G.

These started to emerge in public and private social media groups as early as January – two months before the UK went into its first lockdown – as users shared ideas that 5G was weakening people for Covid-19 to capitalise on.

But since then theories have varied wildly, including that the disease is caused by 5G and the virus is a myth, the pandemic is a hoax so the government can install 5G as well as spurious notions about Microsoft founder Bill Gates such as that he started the ‘plandemic’ to control people.

Some even suggest Covid broke out in Wuhan in China due to the early presence of 5G masts there.

Dr Joseph Downing, a fellow in nationalism at the London School of Economic, explains: ‘These conspiracy theories rely on a grain of truth or a grain of fact which is then extrapolated forward into something that’s ludicrous.’

As lockdowns were introduce globally and people’s personal freedoms were reduced, the extremity of the claims appeared to ratchet up.

Online whispers turned to violence as people attacked towers, with 10 European countries seeing masts torched as well as numerous cases of maintenance workers being assaulted.

Meanwhile only last week a bomber called Anthony Quinn Warner attacked an AT&T building in Nashville in the US on Christmas Day, possibly spurred on by his belief 5G cellular technology was killing people.

Warner, 63, was named by the FBI on Sunday as perpetrator of the Christmas Day bombing outside an AT&T building, after DNA showed he perished in the attack carried out with an RV

Such was the severity of the 5G conspiracy issue, an IPSOS study found 10 per cent of interviewees held a negative opinion towards the technology.

The research also tested some myths and found while a small minority believes in them, a substantial amount of Europeans are not sure they are false either.

The myths around 5G appear to have been spread mostly through social media pages, with giants such as Facebook, YouTube and Whatsapp cracking down on misinformation as the pandemic went on.

Nashville Christmas bomber claimed he had cancer and began to give away his possessions weeks before the attack at AT&T transmission building because he was paranoid about 5G technology

The Nashville Christmas bomber claimed to have cancer and appeared to be winding up his affairs before launching Friday’s attack outside an AT&T building in the city, according to a new report. 

Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, was named by the FBI on Sunday as the perpetrator of the Christmas Day bombing, after DNA showed he perished in the attack carried out with an RV rigged to explode.

The explosion took place before downtown streets were bustling with activity and was accompanied by a recorded announcement warning anyone nearby that a bomb would soon detonate. Then, for reasons that may never be known, the audio switched to a recording of Petula Clark’s 1964 hit ‘Downtown’ shortly before the blast.

Christmas bomber Anthony Quinn Warner claimed to have cancer before the attack

Warner’s actions leading up to the bombing are now under scrutiny as investigators try to piece together his motive in the unusual attack.

He believed 5G cellular technology was killing people, and may have been spurred on in the conspiracy theory by the 2011 death of his father, who worked for telecom BellSouth, which later merged with AT&T.

The bombing badly damaged a critical AT&T transmission center, wreaking havoc on phone communications in multiple states that the company is still racing to resolve. 

Electronic devices seized from Warner’s former home in Antioch, a suburb of Nashville, have been sent to a digital forensics laboratory to unlock his online activity and find out where he discussed his warped views.

‘We are waiting on the digital footprint that should finally provide us with some answers,’ the source explained.

‘The unofficial motive thus far is the suspect believed 5G was the root of all deaths in the region and he’d be hailed a hero.’ 

But groups such as The Action Against mobile group were joined by well-known conspiracy theorists such as former footballer David Icke and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers.

There have been high profile rallies in the UK – with social distancing rules ignored – where these figures have tried to spread their misinformation to crowds sometimes numbering hundreds.

But in truth, there is no evidence to suggest the coronavirus is caused by 5G in any way.

The outbreak started with a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown origin in Wuhan, which Chinese authorities reported to the World Health Organization on December 31 last year.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website many of the early patients had links to a seafood and live animal market where a human might have contracted the virus from an animal. The virus then spread person-to-person.

The symptoms of Covid-19 include fever, tiredness, cough, and shortness of breath that can appear two to 14 days after being exposed to the virus.

The coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets, for example in coughs and sneezes. Claims that 5G networks, not Covid-19, are making people ill, are false.

Meanwhile mobile phone technology such as 5G uses radio waves, the lowest-energy form of radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum.

As already explained, Covid-19 is not spread by radiation but by a virus that is passed via droplets from person to person. Many countries affected by coronavirus do not yet have 5G coverage.

As for the bizarre claims Bill Gates is trying to control the world with the so-called ‘plandemic’, they are also incorrect.

Some misinformation related to the tech pioneer and the pandemic includes false claims about population control.

Some of these stem from a misinterpretation of a section of a speech he gave at a TED conference in 2010.

As part of a talk on reducing CO2 emissions to zero, he said: ‘First, we’ve got population. The world today has 6.8billion people. That’s headed up to about nine billion.

‘Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 per cent. But there, we see an increase of about 1.3.’

Another conspiracy theory falsely accuses Gates and his foundation of assisting in the design of a coronavirus.

This theory stems from a misinterpretation of the work done by a research centre in England called the Pirbright Institute funded by The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, which has also been debunked.

While it may be easy for many people to laugh off conspiracies surrounding 5G and its alleged links to the virus, experts warn they still pose a threat.

Dr Wasim Ahmed, a lecturer in digital business at Newcastle University who has written widely on the subject, says examples started to die off as the pandemic went on.

But he also noted the threat to public health these groups and individuals pose due to an undermining of governments and scientific bodies.

He tells MailOnline: ‘Although not as popular as it was earlier in the year, the conspiracy is still around today.

Theories have varied wildly, including that the disease is caused by 5G and the virus is a myth, the pandemic is a hoax so the government can install 5G as well as spurious notions about Microsoft founder Bill Gates such as that he started the ‘plandemic’ to control people

The bizarre claims Bill Gates is trying to control the world with the so-called ‘plandemic’ are incorrect

‘Conspiracies such as this pose a threat to public health because research has found that those who believe in conspiracies are less likely to follow government advice around Covid-19 safety measures.

‘There are 5G towers that are still being vandalised around the world and some have linked this to this conspiracy.’

Who is David Icke? Footballer turned conspiracy theorist belies the world is run by reptiles and 5G is linked to Covid-19

David Icke is a notorious conspiracy theorist who often makes headlines for his controversial comments.

Born in 1952, the 68-year-old former professional footballer has written more than 20 books and once tried his hand at punditry and sports reporting.

In 1991, he appeared on Sir Terry Wogan’s TV chat show where he declared himself as the son of God in a now-infamous clip which he describes as a ‘defining moment’.

It was from here that he began writing his books and making bold predictions including that the world would end in 1997.

Other bizarre claims he have made include that the royal family are lizards.

Icke also believes that an inter-dimensional race of reptilian beings called the Archons has hijacked the earth and is stopping humanity from realising its true potential.

The 68-year-old has said the universe is made up of ‘vibrational’ energy, and consists of an infinite number of dimensions that share the same space, just like television and radio frequencies, and that some people can tune their consciousness to other wavelengths. 

Most recently, he has suggested the coronavirus is linked to the 5G mobile network, a claim which has never been backed up by science. 

Yet stamping out these people’s opinions and silencing them online is not the right approach, Dr Downing from LSE, says.

He tells MailOnline the believers feed off a persecution complex, something also seen in terrorists, where they feel they hold the truth and are being unjustly silenced by the mainstream.

Dr Downing says: ‘Theories are spread through person to person networks – as well as on sites – which is very difficult to monitor and very difficult to understand really what is being passed around.

‘It’s a huge issue. But it still remains to be seen how we can combat it because the real information is out there.’

He continues: ‘For those people that are in that mindset, it’s really really difficult to reach them because anything you can supply them with, they will just say it’s fake. Whereas anything they can see which suits their beliefs which is fake, they will tell you it’s true.

‘You get into that weird space where empirical evidence becomes irrelevant, it just becomes about I believe this and you believe that.’

On whether there is a way to stem the spread of their misinformation, Dr Downing says no.

‘There isn’t a simple answer’, he adds. ‘But I do think that it’s deplatforming these things and not having a public discussion about them is ever more harmful. One thing these people do thrive on and one of their key justification sis the persecution complex. 

‘This is shared in 5G conspiracy theorists, Covid conspiracy, right wing groups, Islamic extremists, it covers the entire spectrum. They all rely on this persecution complex to say that ”we’re the bearers of truth” being persecuted by the malevolent mainstream.

‘The more its ridiculed, pushed to the margins, the more deplatforms, it raises serious issues around free speech, but it also provides them with a greater degree of validation.’

He adds: ‘I think with these kinds of conspiracies, let it be said, do good public information programmes that provide genuine, well researched cited information, but try not to adopt that kind of combative approach from a policy perspective because it only strengthens their position.’

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