Why 5G conspiracy theories are so prevalent

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the investigation continues into the Christmas morning explosion, investigators are looking into whether the suspect at the center of the bombing, Anthony Quinn Warner, was motivated by paranoia over 5G technology.

Conspiracy theories about wireless communication technologies are not new; they’ve been around for decades. Jordan Frith, the Pearce Professor of Professional Communication at Clemson University, is an expert on mobile media and infrastructure.

Frith says that with each new advance in wireless communication technology, new conspiracy theories arise and old ones continue.

“With each new generation, the fears come up again and again. Like with 3G, they came up, some people linked it to SARS, which was not true. And then with 4G the came up. So it’s this long thing that has a probably 50-year history of linking wireless communication technologies, even pre-cell phone, to different diseases and things like that.” 

While conspiracy theories online may seem harmless, they can have real-world impacts, according to Frist.

“This is certainly the biggest case in recent memory of an attack on infrastructure because of conspiracies and things like that, but if it ends up being 5G, it has kind of been building towards something like this. You can find stories in Australia and the UK of people destroying 5G infrastructure because of fears about COVID, because of fears about mind control,” Frith said.

But why are these theories so prevalent in 2020? The emergence of social media has certainly made it easier to access and share conspiracies. Add in an emerging pandemic, and theories involving 5G technology blossomed.

“I think part of the reason it’s gone into overdrive is that this is a long conspiracy with a 50-year history. But this is the height of the conspiracy age we now live in. 5G is the big new thing. And then you also had COVID, which kind of exacerbated it in new ways and led to some new conspiracies about 5G being the reason COVID spread, and I think that’s evolved since there.”

While it certainly is possible that Anthony Quinn Warner was motivated by paranoia over 5G, there’s still a lot for Federal investigators to learn.

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