5G conspiracy theories:
The 5th generation of mobile networks [5G] is coming with some fantastic developments for Internet speed (Claims of 1Gbps or higher speeds). Don’t get too excited, the UK is not likely to start deploying until 2019/2020 and it will take years for a wider roll out of the technology across the UK. There are still gaps in coverage with 4G, but even with weak signal you can still get decent Internet speeds compared to some Internet Service Providers. I actually use 4G for my home Internet now, so I welcome the development of 5G. The newest development in mobile network technology has created a range of strange 5G conspiracy theories.
Some of these conspiracy theories are just continuation of older phone masts are harmful. For example, this click bait website makes the claim that firefighters suffered neurological damage from a 5G tower next to a fire station. Naturally there is not a fire station with a 5G tower next to it in Sacramento, California. A quick google search finds helpful sources that highlight that Newspunch.com is a alt-right conspiracy website that publishes pseudoscience.
However, there are a range of weird conspiracy theories surrounding 5G being shared by different groups. Two noticeable groups are the alt-right and environmentalists.
Alt-right and 5G
The Alt-right conspiracy theories have decided that 5G is a tool of the US government, Google, and security apparatus to conduct mass surveillance on the public. The Alt-right appear to have decided that Google (a mega corporation) is in fact a communist entity…
The ‘deep state’ is a term used by the Alt-right that refers to the conspiracy of a secretive shadow government… Think the Smoking Man from the X Files.This conspiracy like all the others is nuts. Motherboard has a good article explaining the origins of the recent 5G Google/Deep state conspiracy.
Personally, I find this highly amusing. Mass surveillance is already happening and GCHQ was recently found to have breached human rights with their data collection. We also see the UK moving towards Internet censorship and demonising encryption. Anyone remember when the UK government called for Encryption to be banned? Worth investing in a VPN service like Private Internet Access.
Environmentalists and 5G conspiracy theories.
I noticed a few fake news stories being shared by some of my friends on Facebook. These are things that a quick Google search can show the story is click bait nonsense. The Environmental movement has targeted mobile networks before, back in 2012 George Monbiot argued that this hurt the movement, and 5G has continued these fears.
It is great to see people care about the environment, but energy needs to be expended on actual issues that impact the environment (Plastic pollution, Climate change, etc).
Complexity and misunderstandings:
Climate change is a fantastic example, due to the complex nature of the issue, where people believe things like pesticides or Ozone Depletion are contributing to climate change when they are not. Part of this problem is due to how we have communicated climate change. By focusing on messages like turn off lights, we have the weird situation where people believe leaving lights on have a larger impact than their car…
We see people making the same error with fears surrounding Wi-Fi and mobile networks. The US Green party presidential candidate in 2016 made bizarre comments in a questions and answers.
These misunderstandings surrounding the causes of climate change have been a long term issue. Survey data has found a worrying disconnect between public understanding of climate change.
“In the first UK scientific literacy test in 1988 it was highlighted by Durant et al. (1989, p. 11) that they found that “… a mere 23% recognised a link between the burning of fossil fuels in coal-fired power stations and the problem of global warming”. This survey had 2,009 participants from the UK with participants being over the age of 18. A more recent survey by Poortinga et al. (2006, p. 12) which was conducted in 2005 found that participants were aware of the main human causes with “… 29% mentioning the burning of fossil fuels…”. The question used by Poortinga et al. (2006) was an open question design so cannot be easily compared to the survey by Durant et al. (1989). In the US a survey by Bord et al. (2000, p. 208) found that 89% of participants knew that the “use of coal and oil by utilities or electric companies” was a cause of global warming. However, only 46% of respondents thought it was a major cause”
Fascinating subject. Glad I spent my PhD researching online communication of climate change.
If you are worried about 5G conspiracies then don’t be. The Government already mass collects data (buy a VPN) and if the environment is your concern then 5G is not an issue.
Unfortunately, 5G has a lot of buzz surrounding it. So we will be seeing fake news stories popping up targeting different groups of people. Remember these stories get written to drive traffic to a website, normally so they can earn money through adverts running on those websites. Don’t fall for them. Always check the source.