The conspiracy linking 5G to the coronavirus just will not die

People loook at 5G phones at the Samsung booth during the CES tech show, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

As the spread of the coronavirus is proving difficult to contain, so too is the misinformation surrounding it.

One of the most recent, baseless conspiracy theories surrounding the virus is that 5G networks -- the next generation of wireless technology that’s steadily being rolled out around the world -- are fueling the coronavirus pandemic. They are not.

Unfounded claims about a supposed link between 5G and COVID-19 began circulating on the fringes of the internet, where New Agers and QAnon followers perpetuated the hoax that global elites were using 5G to spread the virus. Unsophisticated algorithms amplified those voices and ushered unsubstantiated theories into the mainstream.

Officials in the United Kingdom have expressed concerns that recent attacks on cellphone towers were motivated by false conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, actor Woody Harrelson and singer M.I.A. are among celebrities and influencers spreading such claims to their millions of followers.

There’s no evidence to support the theory that 5G networks cause COVID-19 or contribute to its spread. But still, it refuses to die.

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Here’s what to know about 5G networks, how these false theories came about and why they don’t hold up.

How 5G works