The virus is in the radio waves, man.
The idea that the new coronavirus is caused by telecommunications technology has taken off over the past few months.
Around the world, there have been protests, petitions, and towers razed to the ground. In some places, like our very own Mullumbimby, it’s caught on faster than COVID-19 itself.
As far as conspiracy theories go, it is reasonably popular.
The Facebook group ‘Stop 5G’, which recently had a rebranding and is now called ‘Australians for Safe Technology’, has nearly 50,000 members and regularly posts incorrect claims about 5G affecting our health.
It might have traction, but it has no legs. The theory has been denounced by radiation and medical experts. It’s completely false.
Let’s go over it.
What actually is 5G?
5G is the 5th generation of mobile networks. It’s meant to deliver higher data speeds, bigger network capacity and increased availability.
As Australians get online more, use more data, download more stuff, and work more online, 5G will allow billions of devices to share content, information and data, almost instantly.
It will also enable us to easily connect our machines, objects and devices, so we can have smarter schools, smarter homes, smarter vehicles. You get the point.
How is it different to 3 or 4G?
It’s faster and more efficient.
5G can send your photos, videos, emails, etc at speeds of up to 100 gigabytes per second, making it 100 times faster than our 4G network.
Essential to this is low latency. Low latency is computer-speak for the time that information is sent from one device to the time it can be used by another.
For instance, from when you hear the ‘woosh’ of an email send-off, to how quickly someone can download everything in the email when it lands.
Low latency is what we want.
There is less buffering of videos, you’ll be able to download and update files quickly and computers should crash less.
Why do we need it?
Because the world is using smarter, better technology, so our internet needs to keep up with it.
5G is about making sure the technology of the future, like virtual reality and self-driving cars, have the internet speeds they need to run.
Sounds great! Why do people think it’s killing us?
Let’s bring in an expert.
“To start with the latest conspiracy theory we have to take a step back,” said cybersecurity expert Dr Stanley Shanapinda.
“There have always been these debates about mobile phones and cell towers and the proximity to residential areas and to us as humans, and the risk of them causing cancer.
“So the conspiracy is that the same frequencies that are alleged to be causing cancer, they now causing the coronavirus.”
So on one side of the conspiracy are those that believe the radio waves from the towers weaken the immune system and make us more susceptible so catching the virus.
In the other camp are those who believe the virus somehow latches on to the radio waves and transmits that way.
Wuhan is a 5G city. And so the theory goes, a perfect place for a new coronavirus to jump from animal to radio wave and sweep across the globe.
“Wuhan is a smart city, where there is a major technology rollout,” Dr Shanapinda said.
“And that’s why they think it is the city where all of this started.”
Where did it come from?
It’s unknown who cooked this up first, but it did the rounds on social media before really taking off in March.
That was when US Dr Thomas Cowan, who was on disciplinary probation at the time, claimed in a viral video that 5G poisoned cells in the body forcing them to excrete a waste which eventually became known as COVID-19.
The video and the claim were then thrown around by several high-profile people, including John Cusack, Wiz Khalifa, and Keri Hilson.
Will 5G make me sick?
“The World Health Organisation has done extensive research on the effects of radio waves on the skin and there is no evidence that links the 4G spectrum or the 5G spectrum,” Dr Shanapinda said.
“There is no evidence it has led to cancer.
“Of course, we have only known about the coronavirus since December but there is no scientific evidence 5G has caused it.
“The radio waves cannot even penetrate the skin, it’s approved at levels that are safe for humans.”
Want to know if there’s a 5G tower near you? You can check that out here.