In the last few months, 5G related hoax stories have appeared with alarming regularity. One of the contributing factors in their spread has been the quarantine imposed due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
Millions of citizens, trapped inside their homes because of the virus, have turned to the web as their preferred source of updates on the pandemic, often encountering articles containing very little truth, but eager to erroneously link 5G with the coronavirus.
Conspiracy theories on the link between 5G and Covid-19
Of all the hoax reporting surrounding 5G that has emerged over the past weeks, the most worrying purports that the antennae used for ultra-broadband transmission are the main channel by which the Covid-19 pathogen has spread through the environment.
According to un-specified sources, this theory originated in an article which appeared in a Belgian newspaper. In an interview given to that newspaper, a scientist apparently highlighted this alleged link, by observing that there a large number of 5G antennae are located in Wuhan (site of the first coronavirus outbreak).
Once this news reached the ears of various influencers around the world, it soon went viral, featuring on social networks and creating panic among users. Despite any link between 5G and coronavirus being unsupported by any logical or scientific evidence whatsoever, the rumours were sufficient to cause significant damage to infrastructures and telecoms companies.
Is 5G harmful to health?
Before answering this question, it is important to bear in mind the public’s approach to new inventions over the course of history. Ignorance towards unknown technology has almost always led individuals to fear potential side effects.
When, for example, radio was first introduced, theories began to spread regarding the possible military use of radio waves. That led to the idea of ‘death rays’, capable of long range attacks on the enemy. More recently, the theory emerged that mobile phones cause cancer in users.
From time to time, fake news and conspiracy theories take root because most people do not have sufficient in-depth knowledge of certain subjects to enable them to distinguish false sources from authentic ones. That is the reason why news is often accepted as reliable despite being completely wrong.
Considering that hoaxes about 5G are no exception, it is important to reassure the population, while offering a clear explanation of how innocuous this technology actually is for human health: according to many experts (who have provided detailed illustrations of how ultra-broadband works), the waves emitted by the antennae are no different to those that surround us every day, even as we walk down the street.
Consequences of the hoaxes surrounding 5G
The most worrying aspect of the false claims about 5G is connected with acts of vandalism. Many telecoms firms (both in Italy and abroad) have witnessed cases of their infrastructure being deliberately damaged. Favourite targets include antennae, which are often not even directly involved with 5G.
The spread of fear through fake news influences more susceptible individuals to take misguided action, risking significant damage in terms of costs. Putting together reliable information, backed up by data and expert testimony is the best way to combat such phenomena.
Ordinary people can also make a small contribution to the fight against fake news. Warning relatives when they share links to biased material and reporting those who knowingly spread incorrect information or abuse social platforms to cause panic, are good ways to help the community.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith