The coronavirus pandemic has kicked conspiracy theorists into high gear, with one idea taking a foothold with some of the internet's more outlandish and outspoken participants: that the COVID-19 outbreak was caused by the rollout of 5G networks.
The timing, as many are happy to blindly point out, is nothing if not suspicious. After all, both the coronavirus outbreak and the rollout of 5G networks occurred at approximately the same time, and both have direct ties to Wuhan, China, right?
However, if you're basing an aggressively misinformed conspiracy theory on a mere coincidence rather than the opinions of medical experts, technology authorities, and reputable organizations, well, we don't really know what to do other than explain to you the facts.
5G Is Safe
If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: 5G is safe for human beings. Just a few weeks ago, the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), a scientific organization in Germany that sets the allowable limits on radiation exposure, updated the guidelines for 5G networks to include new research and scientific discovery. And, suffice it to say, they've further confirmed the safeness of 5G, even in the face of these new restrictions.
“We know parts of the community are concerned about the safety of 5G and we hope the updated guidelines will help put people at ease,” said Dr Eric van Rongen, the chair of the INIRP.
If you conspiracy theorists are suspicious of the timing of this report — as you're wont to do — these reassurances are far from new to the scientific community. In fact, the FCC came out in mid-2019 against any claims that the technology is causing health problems, stating that the current regulations are “among the most stringent in the world for cell phones.”
The 5G Backlash
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, many are still convinced that 5G is to blame for the current state of the world, and they're taking some pretty rash actions to voice their displeasure with the situation.
In the UK over the weekend, more than 20 mobile phone masts were set ablaze in an effort to curb 5G rollout. The attacks were primarily localized in Liverpool and the West Midlands, and actually had no effect on 5G technology, as the vandalized masts in question only housed 3G and 4G equipment. Still, the message was clear: uninformed people are willing to go to great lengths to get nothing done.
These attacks aren't the only example of 5G backlash. Dozens of notable celebrities, including actor Woody Harrelson and singer M.I.A., have spoken out against the technology on social media, parroting conspiracy theory rhetoric that is based in little to no factual information. And that appears to be one of the biggest problems in the age of coronavirus.
Misinformation in the Age of Coronavirus
Whether you're seeing it on social media or hearing it from the president, misinformation about coronavirus is particularly rampant, even in an era defined by its proclivity towards fake news. From “cures” that can kill you to mask shortages fueled by conflicting reports, the quarantine has become a breeding ground for incorrect information.
Luckily, the fight against misinformation is well underway. Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have been actively removing false claims on their sites, going as far as to remove a video from Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic. Additionally the FCC has reached out to telecommunication companies to attempt to slow down the spread of robocalls, one of the many coronavirus scams that have surfaced amongst the chaos.
We hate to be repetitive at Tech.co, but this point bears repeating: avoid misinformation right now. Truthfully, sticking to sources like the CDC and the WHO are your best bet for getting honest, helpful, up-to-date information on how to manage your health during these uncertain times.
Just remember, the only thing we are certain about right now is that 5G networks aren't causing the coronavirus outbreak, so rest easy.