It's easy to say that we are currently living through a global crisis.
The spread of the deadly virus has caused mass panic and predictably, conspiracy theories are flying around about where the virus came from. Now, in a strange turn of events, people have been burning down phone masts due to a conspiracy theory about 5G - and actor Woody Harrelson has added fuel to the fire with some truly odd social media posts.
We are living in a global crisis...
via: GettyAnd it's safe to say that right now, the world is experiencing a mass panic.
And what comes with mass panic?
via: GettyConspiracy theories, of course!
It's no secret that conspiracies are created out of fear...
via: GettyAnd with the help of the internet, they can be spread very quickly.
People all over the world have been conjuring up bizarre conspiracies since the outbreak...
via: GettyIncluding the theory that the Chinese government created the virus as a weapon. Seriously, I wish I was making this up.
People are starting to get rather tired of these conspiracies...
Making up Coronavirus conspiracies is refusing to accept reality for what it is, and creates heard fear and chaos for no reason.— Avery ♃ ✨ (@Avery ♃ ✨)1584507349.0
And that is the 5G conspiracy.
via: GettyLet's start with the facts... The bizarre conspiracy began in the U.K. and it related 5G phone masts to the deadly virus.
5G internet is the future of smartphones.
via: GettyAlthough 5G isn't currently available worldwide, it has been piloted in several countries - including China.
The theory is that the rollout of 5G internet is either causing or accelerating the spread of the virus.It's hard to pinpoint the source of the theory, but it seemed to have kicked off in early March... and it now appears to have picked up steam during the first week of April.
A post on social media suggested that 5G came from Wuhan - where the virus originated.
via: GettyAnd the post rested on the pre-existing conspiracy theory that 5G suppresses people's immune systems. It was posted to an anti-5G Facebook group and was subsequently marked by Facebook as misinformation.
And to make things even worse...
5G network radiation is the one causing people to die on the road coronavirus exist but it is a distraction from th… https://t.co/mwoPpZAW6d— Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand (@Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand)1585982790.0
There is absolutely no evidence that 5G, or any other forms of radio waves, are harmful to humans.
via: GettyAs Business Insider explained, radiowaves are found at the low end of the electromagnetic spectrum, and as such produce non-ionizing radiation, meaning they do not damage the DNA in cell tissue.
But people are still believing these rumors...
via: GettyAnd many have gone to extreme lengths to protect themselves out of this irrational fear.
Around twenty phone masts have been vandalized or burnt in the U.K. thanks to these theories.
5G towers seem to be going up whilst we’re in lockdown 🤔 One in Birmingham is on fire 🔥 #5G #5GTowers #Lockdown… https://t.co/T4iDMav391— Jacqueline Evans (@Jacqueline Evans)1585861730.0
People were rejoicing on social media over the attack...
5g masts setting on fire tin foil hats out https://t.co/6eoeMeEkyI— chris (@chris)1585868613.0
It seems that this awful behavior has been encouraged by a 5G conspiracy Facebook group...
via: GettyBut after things began to get out of hand and people started targeting engineers, the group was forced to warn users not to attack the innocent workers.
Countless 5G engineers have been harassed on the streets of Britain by people who believe these conspiracies...
This is the consequence of those bonkers Facebook conspiracy theories about 5G. Key workers getting harassed on the… https://t.co/EXlAOmtkZe— Charlie Haynes (@Charlie Haynes)1585838245.0
Mobile UK, who represent a lot of the U.K.'s top networks, spoke out about this unnecessary behavior.
via: GettySpeaking to The Sun, they said, "During this challenging situation, it is concerning that certain groups are using the pandemic to spread false rumors and theories about the safety of 5G technologies. More worryingly some people are also abusing our key workers and making threats to damage infrastructure under the pretense of claims about 5G."
These conspiracies are damaging their industry...
via: Getty"This is not acceptable and only impacts our ability as an industry to maintain the resilience and operational capacity of the networks to support mass home working and critical connectivity to the emergency services, vulnerable consumers and hospitals," they went on to say. "The theories are baseless and are not grounded in accepted scientific theory."