5G, the latest digital cellular network, has been in the news partly because the technology has been slowly rolling out since the middle of last year, but also because of an uptick in 5G-related conspiracies.
These conspiracies have gotten so much traction that people have been burning down 5G towers (and some 4G towers by mistake), convinced the new network is part of many contrived plots to harm or kill people.
These ideas have been around for a while, so if you're looking for an internet hole to dive down, this list of wacky 5G conspiracies should do the trick.
1. 5G Kills Birds
In early April 2020, a story circulated that 5G cell towers somewhere in Italy caused hundreds of birds to suddenly die, almost completely covering a road in dead bird carcasses.
Not surprisingly, the image attached to this story was taken in the Netherlands in 2018, when a group of birds also mysteriously died and people back then blamed 5G for the deaths.
2. 5G Kills Trees
This video, in which a guy shows how a tree seems to be growing poorly on the side that's near a 5G emitter, became a key point of evidence in people's claims that 5G can damage trees.
A 2010 study did claim to find evidence that trees in areas with a lot of Wi-Fi infrastructure were damaged in ways they couldn't readily explain, but fact checking institutions have repeatedly denied that 5G actually kills trees.
3. 5G Caused Coronavirus
1916 - emergence of Radio Waves— Tiffani Cyr (@TiffaniCyr) April 2, 2020
1918 - Spanish Flu outbreak
2003 - 3G introduced to the world
2003 - SARS outbreak
2009 - 4G introduced to the world
2009 - Swine flu outbreak
2019/20 - 5G introduced to the world
2019/20 - Coronavirus outbreak #WWG1WGA #COVIDー19 #5G #5GRollout
The idea that 5G causes or exacerbates COVID-19 is based loosely on the argument that networks like 5G can suppress human immune systems.
After people decided that Wuhan was the first city in China to roll out 5G networks (even though it was only one of many cities piloting the technology), they connected the dots and declared that the epicenter of COVID-19 and 5G must be related some how.
4. 5G Makes Men Impotent
In 2013, a guy named David Carpenter published a paper claiming to have found that excessive exposure to radio frequencies—such as those in 5G—increases the risk of male infertility.
While Carpenter didn't specifically signal out 5G in this statement, that hasn't stopped people from stoking the fear and selling products to protect your nuts against 5G radiation.
5. 5G Causes Brain Cancer
Another guy, Bill Curry, is responsible for planting the idea that 5G can cause brain cancer.
People like to cite a graph Curry made in 2000 that suggests human brains absorb more radiation when they're exposed to higher and higher frequency radio waves.
However, Curry apparently didn't realize that human skin basically blocks 5G radiation.
6. 5G Messes With Our Sleep
David Carpenter has also claimed that being exposed to high-frequency radio waves like 5G can disturb sleep patterns.
More commonly, people argue that sleep trouble can come from staring at the blue light from your cell phone screen, rather than any radiation from the phone.
7. 5G Causes Nose Bleeds
This one comes straight from Mother Russia.
In 2019, the Russian government apparently tried to get other countries to waste time arguing about the 5G technology first being rolled out then. To do this, the Russian government pushed a bunch of wild conspiracies on Americans through RT America, the TV and internet news channel headquartered in Washington, D.C. and owned by Russia.
Mixed in with those conspiracies was one about 5G causing nosebleeds, especially in children. However, the claim seems to not really be based on anything other than a love of trolling.
8. 5G Causes Learning Disabilities
Among those same warnings from the totally not biased RT America network were ones that 5G would cause kids to develop learning disorders.
It probably didn't help that Tucker Carlson was also pushing these Russia-based conspiracies on Fox News.
9. 5G Inadvertently Causes Wildfires in California
This is both the most and least far-fetched theory, because it doesn't have anything to do with the specifics or radiation of 5G technology itself.
The idea is that when some Californians halted the progress of 5G infrastructure being built throughout the state, either because they just didn't want it or because some of the installation jobs were done really poorly, certain "Global Elites" retaliated by causing massive forest fires.
10. 5G Will Actually Give You Faster Internet
Of course, the biggest 5G conspiracy theory is that 5G will actually give us all better, faster internet experiences.
While it'd be nice if that were true, as previous cell network roll outs have shown, new networks are never as fast or reliable as they promise. People have already started to see this with 5G-capable phones.