Virus theories linking pandemic to 5G lead to arson and social media restrictions
Conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 have led to crime, social media restrictions and poor public health practices. The dominant theory links COVID-19 to 5G networks, but others involve Bill Gates and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Some believers in the 5G theory claim that 5G waves weaken our immune system or transmit the virus itself, although there has been no scientific evidence to affirm these claims.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement saying that 5G
networks do not spread COVID-19, citing that viruses cannot travel through radio waves and that the virus has spread in many countries without 5G networks.
The WHO stated that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets, when a person sneezes, coughs, speaks or touches a contaminated surface.
Several celebrities have come out in support of the theories, some of whom have been admonished by fans for promoting misinformation.
In response to the theories, nearly 60 5G towers have been set on fire in the United Kingdom by believers of the theory. There have also been 11 arson attempts on 5G towers in the Netherlands.
After airing an interview with 5G theorist David Icke, television station London Live is facing sanctions by media regulator Ofcom. Ofcom’s ruling determined that Icke’s unproven claims “had the potential to cause significant harm to viewers in London during the pandemic,” therefore causing a threat to public health.
First-year economics major Patrick Stebbins noted that he believes the 5G conspiracy to be false, though its effects may still be detrimental to public
“5G and (COVID-19) have no correlation, besides the fact that it will make people go outside and protest 5G and therefore give more people (COVID-19) because they’re in contact with other people,” Stebbins said.
Some individuals not in support of vaccinations, commonly known as anti-vaxxers, have claimed that Bill Gates created or was prematurely aware of the virus. This claim is based on a 2015 TED Talk Gates gave after the Ebola
outbreak, in which he states that there will be a “new pandemic.”
Others who blame Gates claim that COVID-19 is a plot to vaccinate the world’s population. This is often linked to the humanitarian work that Gates leads through his foundation to provide low-income areas with opportunities to become vaccinated. Neither Gates nor his family have directly responded to these accusations.
Some believers in the GMO theory believe that feeding GMO soya to farm animals caused the SARS outbreak in 2013 and that the widespread use of GMOs in modern agriculture is linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several social media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, are restricting posts with inaccurate information surrounding COVID-19. Facebook noted that it will begin removing posts with false information
and Twitter noted that it is increasing machine-learning to take down false posts regarding theories about the pandemic.
YouTube said that this content does not directly violate site policies, but the company will be reducing possible ad revenue, reducing algorithmic recommendations and removing search results for content linked to the false 5G theory.
Junior biology major Alex Vinzce disregards the theories as false conspiracies, noting in particular that the only danger associated with 5G is with high radiation at extremely close range.
He stated that the spread of misinformation and was alarming, given the lack of evidence to support these theories.
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