Throughout the course of history, people have latched onto baseless conspiracy theories. However, while it’s fine to sit in your room and muse about whether or not the moon landings actually happened (you do you, we guess), it’s incredibly dangerous to share misinformation. Particularly when it is about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
For some time now, a few choice individuals have done their best to draw a link between 5G and Covid-19. Indeed, Keri Hilson, an American singer with 4.2 million followers on Twitter, sent several tweets last month on the subject.
“People have been trying to warn us about 5G for YEARS,” she wrote. “Petitions, organisations, studies…what we’re going through is the effects of radiation.
“5G launched in CHINA on 1 Nov 2019. People dropped dead.”
Despite the fact that, as a theory, it makes zero sense (radio waves can’t create a virus, which is what causes Covid-19), broadband engineers have been threatened by anti-5G protesters. Possible arson attacks against UK phone towers have been reported, too, prompting the UK’s national medical director to publicly brand the theory as “complete and utter rubbish.”
Still, though, people are repeating this conspiracy to others. People like, say, This Morning’s Eamonn Holmes, who sparked an Ofcom row when he used his platform on a popular daytime TV show to rule that this “5G caused coronavirus” theory shouldn’t be dismissed.
“What I don’t accept is mainstream media immediately slapping that down as not true when they don’t know it’s not true,” he said in the episode, which aired on Monday 13 April.
“No one should attack or damage anything but it’s easy to say it’s not true because it suits the state narrative.”
“There are a lot of people trying to make money by spreading lies about coronavirus, whether it’s quack remedies or stupid conspiracy theories about 5G,” Riley explained.
“It’s dangerous, especially when these things get repeated on shows that you’re expected to trust.”
The Countdown presenter added that she is spending lockdown working on anti-misinformation for Stop Funding Fake News, which targets websites accused of publishing fake news by calling on brands to boycott them.
“I’ve fallen out with Eamonn Holmes before, when he had David Icke on his radio show, but you don’t expect to see ridiculous theories about 5G being repeated on This Morning,” Riley said.
It’s worth noting that, shortly after his comments were aired, Holmes issued an apology.
“I want to clarify some comments that some of you may have misinterpreted from me… around conspiracy theories and coronavirus and this involved the roll out of 5G,” he said.
“Both Alice Beer and myself agreed in a discussion on this very programme on fake news that it is not true, and there is no connection between the present national health emergency and 5G and to suggest otherwise would be wrong and indeed it could be possibly dangerous.
“Every theory relating to such a connection has been proven to be false and we would like to emphasise that. ‘However, many people are rightly concerned and are looking for answers, and that’s simply what I was trying to impart yesterday but for the avoidance of any doubt I want to make it clear there’s no scientific evidence to substantiate any of those 5G theories.”
How to prevent the spread of fake news
When checking the reliability of information online, Stop Hate UK advises that you consider the following:
- Does the information come from a reliable source?
- Have you read beyond the headline?
- Is the author credible?
- Have you clicked on the supporting sources to check their legitimacy?
- When was the story originally published?
- Could your own biases or beliefs be impacting your judgement?
- Have you checked the facts? Remember, www.fullfact.org is a UK-based, independent and trusted site for fact-checking, and is an excellent place to start.
It’s worth noting that FullFact has stressed that there is “no evidence that 5G Networks are linked to the new coronavirus.”