A year has passed since Wired published an article detailing how the conspiracies linking 5G to Covid-19 spread so widely and in such a short amount of time. Despite the passing of time and the countless fact-checking sites’ working to stop the spread of misinformation, the chaos continues.
In January, 2020 Het Laatste Nieuws published the article “5G is life-threatening, and no one knows it.” The article’s only evidence for this sensational claim was that Kris Van Kerckhoven, a general practitioner from Putte, Belgium baselessly claimed that 5G was dangerous and that it might be linked to coronavirus. At the time, only 440 people had been infected and they were almost all in Wuhan, China.
When the Het Laatste Nieuws journalist pointed out that since 2019 5G cell towers had been built around Wuhan and asked if he believed that two were connected. The journalist was using the coincidence of late 2019 marking the rollout of both events to get a dramatic headline. The general practitioner stated “I have not done a fact check, but it may be a link with current events.”
Within days the conspiracy theory spread across Europe through anti-5G social media pages. Celebrities and social media influencers with thousands of followers have perpetuated the false claims. When Wired published this article, a number of 5G masts across the UK have been set on fire in apparent arson attacks. This meant the anti-5G sentiments had officially spread past the bounds of the internet.
A year later, it feels like nothing has changed. There have been protests led by anti-5G groups in Switzerland and across Europe all through the year, which have made the implementation of 5G and the vaccination process much more difficult than they should have been. Despite countless attempts to set the record straight and millions of people vaccinated, false rumors and speculations around their possible effects on humans and nature are still being spread all over social media. When vaccines began to be launched in January 2021 a fake photo of a “5G microchip” in the Covid-19 vaccine went viral. Unfortunately, this exact type of fake information rises everyday on the Internet. The situation is stagnating, with anti-5G campaigns still going strong and many continuing to promote a possible connection to the pandemic.