5G Conspiracy Idiots Now Threatening Telecom Workers That Don't Even Work In Wireless

from the ill-communication dept

On one end, you've got wireless carriers implying that 5G is some type of cancer curing miracle (it's not). On the other hand, we have oodles of conspiracy theorists, celebrities, and various grifters trying to claim 5G is some kind of rampant health menace (it's not). In reality, 5G's not actually interesting enough to warrant either position, but that's clearly not stopping anybody in the post-truth era.

But it's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

Baseless conspiracy theories about the health impact of 5G have gone next level during the pandemic. To the point where facts-optional nitwits are not only burning down cell towers in the UK, but putting razor blades and needles underneath protest posters on telephone poles (apparently you solve public health risks by... putting peoples' health at risk?). We've seen a few attacks on telecom infrastructure and employees here in the States, but it's been notably worse in the UK, where telecom engineers are now being routinely insulted and threatened:

"Most incidents could be classified as harassment. Shouted insults, death threats, and the like. But others were more violent. Razor blades and needles had been hidden behind posters on telephone poles, waiting to catch unwitting hands. Attackers had set cellphone masts on fire and shared the videos on social media to the applause of fellow conspiracists. According to figures shared with The Verge by industry body Mobile UK, there were more than 200 incidents of abuse against telecoms engineers since March 30th and more than 90 arson attacks against mobile infrastructure."

The 5G conspiracy theorists are routinely bipartisan in nature. Some, on the left, originate from the "healing powers of crystals" and anti-vaccination set, and believe every shaky, worldview-confirming health claim they can get their hands on. Others, on the right, have stumbled into the 5G conspiracies thanks to their association with histrionic dog shit like Q Anon. In the UK, it's at the point where technicians that don't even work on wireless infrastructure have to tread carefully. Like the tech at the heart of the above-linked Verge article, who spends his days repairing fiber and DSL lines:

"She raised her voice almost immediately: ‘You’re killing people. You know what you’re doing. How could you do this?’”

He tried to follow company training and not engage with the accusations, but the woman was getting more and more upset. 5G was causing the symptoms of COVID-19, she told him, and he was secretly installing the high-speed network under instructions from the local council. The woman was beginning to drag in bystanders at this point. She corralled a group of men who were drinking in the street and pointed Qureshi out to them. “He’s the one who’s killing everyone,” she told them. “He’s spreading all this virus."

Apparently, it's just too difficult to be able to distinguish between a DSL cabinet and a wireless tower? The problem isn't being helped by the large number of grifting jackasses receiving unwarranted fame via social media. Or celebrities like John Cusack, who recently joined the chorus of 5G health conspiracies despite seemingly not understanding how the technology works (or that many flavors of 5G are actually far less powerful than even existing 4G networks).

Much of the recent popularity of idiotic conspiracy is driven by justified public distrust in our most important institutions. Many have lost faith in the health care system, government, news outlets, corporations, and leaders who've routinely prioritized profit over human health, the truth, or an equitable society. Fix the core rot at these institutions with an eye on a more equitable society, and much of the potency of conspiracy (not to mention Russia/Chinese/Iranian exploitation of said conspiracy) dissipates back into the the gullible fringes where it belongs.

Filed Under: 5g, conspiracy theories, covid-19, threats


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  • icon
    Code Monkey (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 6:51am

    You kids and your new fangled thing-a-mabobs

    "Get a horse!" :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 7:02am

    Here's Your Sign

    We need to come up with some kind of counter-conspiracy, like say that Wyoming is the only place in the U.S. where the 5G signal will not reach, and popularize living inside a tin foil tent to block out the coronavirus rays. They can wait on the side of the mountain for the apocalypse, and then they won't bother the rest of us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 8:41am

      Re: Here's Your Sign

      I'm not so sure. Can Wyoming house 165 million people? You know, the below-average IQ portion of the population?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 9:24am

        Re: Re: Here's Your Sign

        Meh, just send them to Florida. Already got most of America's crazies. Something something salt water nearby something something radiation absorption something something.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2020 @ 1:51am

      Re: Here's Your Sign

      You, a counter-conspiracy?

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA - oh wait, you were serious? Let me laugh even harder, AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Jun 2020 @ 5:49am

      Re: Here's Your Sign

      "...like say that Wyoming is the only place in the U.S. where the 5G signal will not reach, and popularize living inside a tin foil tent to block out the coronavirus rays."

      Just let slip that inhaling dihydrogen monoxide prevents Covid. The news are already out about people drinking bleach, so we do have proof of concept already.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 7:15am

    "Some, on the left, originate from the "healing powers of crystals" and anti-vaccination set, and believe every shaky, worldview-confirming health claim they can get their hands on. Others, on the right, have stumbled into the 5G conspiracies thanks to their association with histrionic dog shit like Q Anon."

    I was unaware that the healing crystals and anti-vac people fell on the left. I had thought these groups were comprised of low education and poverty rather than any one particular political pov. Similarly, I thought the Qanon folk were just batshit crazy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bloof (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 7:29am

      Re:

      The targets of Q Anon tend to be center right critics of Trump and everyone left leaning. They will actively ignore Trump's connections to Epstein and the way he hired people involved in letting him off the first time treat everything he says as the word of god and believe secret trials and public executions are coming, so it's fairly safe to say their supporters are firmly on the authoritarian right. Even if they weren't at the start, that's where they end up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 7:38am

    The magic google words to unlock this particular conspiracy are 'phased antenna array' and '5g resonant frequencies'. Have fun, kids. Science is incredible and dangerous and therefore you cannot be trusted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 8:04am

    How do these anti-5G people stay so informed mailing letters to each other?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 8:46am

    5G is doing harm. Whenever carriers want to justify doing something malicious, from limiting competition to overcharging, they claim to credulous broadcast regulators that they need to be given free reign so that "they can bring 5G to communities". It's a nice, shiny distraction... and the intent is to make 5G an even worse monopolistic (or duopolistic) nightmare than our existing mobile service and the ridiculous one-sided long-term "contracts" being foisted on consumers.

    Whatever the finer points of distinction between a biological virus (such as COVID-19) and mere computer malware (such as DreckTV's "Black Sunday" or DN's "Americas Top One"), they miss the point. The problems have nothing to do with COVID... they involve taking what was a public resource (the free-to-air UHF TV channels 38-51) and selling them off for billions of dollars to the incumbent mobile telephone duopolies so that they may be repurposed to deliver more overpriced mobile data. That's bringing in billions of dollars to governments, at the expense of the public interest. In some communities, the US government has paid broadcasters to take PBS off the air in individual communities (two of the four New Jersey Network transmitters, for instance) or move it to inferior channels (WGBH Boston and WQED Pittsburgh being the most notable) just so that now-valuable high-UHF channels can be sold to mobile telephone bandits for 5G. Atlantic City lost its only network affiliate (NBC 40, WMGM) when the station was bought by speculators hoping to sell its UHF broadcast spectrum to the government to feed the 5G bandits... that attempt failed, but only after both the NBC affiliation and the community's only OTA TV news broadcast were both lost forever.

    In Canada it's worse. The stations are mostly owned by the networks, which are controlled by the same media companies that control the telephone and cable duopoly. They're turning off TV stations in many small communities to avoid paying the costs of moving them to other channels to allow the 600MHz band to be sold off for 5G. And then there's the whole question of whether to allow the network to be built with cheap made-in-commie-China gear and all of the security issues which that raises. And yes, the CRTC is even worse than the FCC as a broadcast regulator that's in business to bend over for a few large incumbent carriers instead of protecting the public interest.

    I see no overriding public benefit to 5G as it fails to address the most serious problems with our existing mobile service - it's overpriced, it's monopolised by a handful of robber barons, it provides uneven coverage where the beaten path has signal while the rest of the country gets nothing - while creating new problems. Pity that our mainstream media is too distracted by COVID to cover anything else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    K`Tetch (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 9:31am

    I can "Trump" it.

    friend of mine is spreading a bunch of this 5G bullshit.

    He's a systems engineer at British Telecom... and has been since the teledot (or 'pre-bugler') days. His garage is all full of BT scrap from exchange gear he's ripped out - we even made a motor controller system using 50v ringer contacts - the ones that were used to send the ring signals to peoples phones that were only just being removed 20 years ago (despite the exchanges going digital 30 years ago). We've even worked on a whole bunch of radio projects together, and yet he doesn't 'get' that 5G is nothing....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 10:06am

      Re:

      One would think an actual electrical or electronics engineer would know better. Is he trained as a civil engineer or software engineer then?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re:

        The problem is that is is all pseudo-science. Some of the facts are true but taken out of context - these idiots take the bad bits and ignore anything that gets in the way of their story.

        Some of what I have read had some small basis in truth but then jumps to a wildly inaccurate assumption and continues as though that is fact too. I can see how the uneducated can fall for it as they do not have the breadth of knowledge to realise the leap is just that. A lot of it was complete cr4p spouted by charlatan 'scientists' though.

        Then add in the 'Government is out to get you' conspiracy nuts to cap it off...

        It is worth a Google search and a bit of a scroll around - quite an eye opener

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 11:10am

          The government is out to get you.

          So what else is new?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Jun 2020 @ 6:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "The problem is that is is all pseudo-science. Some of the facts are true but taken out of context - these idiots take the bad bits and ignore anything that gets in the way of their story. "

          And unfortunately the parts that "get into the way of the story" tend to be fairly significant.

          A number of these conspiracy theories would make perfect sense - if you ignored conservation of energy, the existence of gravity, that people can stand in direct sunlight without going up like roman candles, or the fact that too much of a good thing . like that King of Toxins, Dihydrogen Monoxide - will indeed be fatal without that necessarily being a Really Bad Thing.

          Sadly it always ends up in a number of gullible idiots falling for spun, twisted, broken, inaccurate or outright false data combined with a decent story. Not rarely with someone at the start having a profit motive in making gullible dumbasses believe in nonexistent threats he could sell a "cure" to.

          The anti-vaxxers are a case in point, starting with a discredited physician who'd just started a witch doctor practice offering high-priced "cures" for "vaccine-related" autism right before he twisted a bundle of data to come up with a correlation between vaccination and various forms of NPF. Wakefield has a lot to answer for.

          So the question is who stands to gain by propagating the 5G-causes-covid nonsense?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        K`Tetch (profile), 4 Jun 2020 @ 10:35am

        Re: Re:

        electrical. WE actually started working together mid90s, building various projects.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 5 Jun 2020 @ 12:35am

        Re: Re:

        "One would think an actual electrical or electronics engineer would know better"

        Dunning-Kruger effect. An engineer trained pre-wireless would have no more reason to understand the new tech than a layman unless he's kept up with new training, but he probably thinks he does.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2020 @ 10:19am

      Re:

      "friend of mine is spreading a bunch of this 5G bullshit."

      Why?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rocky, 4 Jun 2020 @ 10:48am

    The obvious benefit of 5G

    The best and obvious benefit of 5G is that its mere mention tells you who the idiot is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 4 Jun 2020 @ 5:56pm

    5G conspiracies... brought to you by the same people who don't vote because "that's how the government tracks you!" (ballot counting... duh).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2020 @ 2:12am

      Re:

      Sadly I've encountered a few of them who most certainly do vote. Usually because "Boris Johnson knows the truth about Q and is going to stop the 5G elites"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        wereisjessicahyde (profile), 5 Jun 2020 @ 5:32am

        Re: Re:

        The same Boris Johnson that went around shaking hands with as many Covid patients as he could find, to show everybody it was nothing to worry about and landed himself in intensive care? That Boris?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 5 Jun 2020 @ 6:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The guy who puts on a foppish moron persona to fool the gullible into not noticing the agenda he's been working on for a couple of decades? Yeah, his act backfired that time (assuming the stories about his illness weren't exaggerated), but he still appeals to those fools for some reason.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Jun 2020 @ 6:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "...but he still appeals to those fools for some reason."

            Worse. Chonky Doctor Horrible now has the extra smidgen of folksy appeal and the "Look-at-me-I-dun-goofed-again" punchline that always gets him votes with the british audience.

            I swear, if the brits had any sense at all they'd beat him at his own game and set John Cleese up as a candidate against him. The real laugh is in that I strongly suspect a UK officially run by monty python might have better leadership than they've had since Churchill...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joseph, 17 Jun 2020 @ 3:01pm

    I guess all the drs who wrote appeals to the different school boards to keep wifi away from the classroom are all idiots too?

    You folks are the same type that believe a buncha terrorists brought down the towers, you are whats wrong with this country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joseph, 17 Jun 2020 @ 9:26pm

    I guess all the drs who wrote appeals to the different school boards to keep wifi away from the classroom are all idiots too?

    You folks are the same type that believe a buncha terrorists brought down the towers, you are whats wrong with this country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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