Russian Network RT Was Involved In Promoting 5G Conspiracy Theories. Is It At It Again?

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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  • Russia’s RT America is helping to seed conspiracy theories suggesting Microsoft founder Bill Gates is somehow involved in the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Online pundits and celebrities are also getting in on the act, suggesting that 5G is somehow involved in spreading coronavirus around the globe.
  • Russia’s past involvement in 5G conspiracy theories was in part designed to promote “economic warfare” against the United States and other western nations, analysts said.

Pundits and other internet warriors are promoting a conspiracy theory online suggesting 5G technology is involved in spreading coronavirus a year after Russia first began seeding similar theories.

RT America aired a segment in January 2019 exploring 5G’s so-called dire health threats. There’s a flaw in the technology, RT reporter Michele Greenstein said during the segment, adding: “It might kill you.”

RT America’s initial attacks on 5G are geopolitically bold, analysts said.

“It’s economic warfare,” Ryan Fox, chief operating officer of New Knowledge, a tech firm tracking disinformation, told The New York Times in 2019. TheNYT report was fleshing out the spread of the theory.

Fox added at the time: “Russia doesn’t have a good 5G play, so it tries to undermine and discredit ours.” The theory has mutated since then, with other news pundits and Greenstein providing it with more wrinkles.

There are people online suggesting 5G towers in Wuhan, China, where coronavirus originated, are somehow involved in spreading the virus, which has killed more than 100,000 people globally, according to Wired. At least one media pundit was criticized for entertaining the possibility that the media were too quick to judge people who questioned whether 5G is responsible for the virus.

Britain’s TV regulators are investigating broadcaster Eamonn Holmes after he pushed back against what he said was the “mainstream” media’s intent on slapping down the conspiracy theories, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

“I totally agree with everything you are saying but what I don’t accept is mainstream media immediately slapping that down as not true when they don’t know it’s not true. No one should attack or damage or do anything like that, but it’s very easy to say it is not true because it suits the state narrative,” Holmes said during a Monday broadcast of “This Morning.”

Silhouette of 5G smart cellular network antenna base station on the telecommunication mast. Shutterstock/TPROduction

Silhouette of 5G smart cellular network antenna base station on the telecommunication mast. Shutterstock/TPROduction

Actor Woody Harrelson and singer Anne-Marie are among a host of celebrities who have pushed the conspiracy theory. It’s a fever pitch, with at least 20 mobile phone towers reportedly being vandalized in recent weeks as a result of the conspiracy theory finding fertile ground.

The newest wave of 5G-related conspiracy theories came after Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws published an interview with general practitioner Kris Van Kerckhoven on Jan. 22, Wired reported April 6. The headline on the article containing the interview read: “5G is life-threatening, and no one knows it.”

Van Kerckhoven said in the interview that the technology might be linked to coronavirus. Het Laatste Nieuws withdrew the article. (RELATED: Former Rep Hopes Coronavirus Fallout Convinces US To Distrust Chinese Tech, Build Up Its Own 5G)

“We regret the fact that the story was online for a few hours,” editor Dimitri Antonissen told Wired. “Unfortunately with conspiracy theories popping up on several places, this does not stop a story from spreading.”

So-called 5G service, with its highly advanced speed, is expected to rein in an “era of untapped economic potential,” the Deloitte Consulting’s research noted in 2018. Spectrum gives mobile customers access to the Internet of Things, a term used to describe the ubiquity of the internet on every device.

It also provides the United States with the tools that help advance telemedicine, a type of technology allowing doctors to provide care to patients remotely via live stream.

RT’s Greenstein has also advanced similar theories with respect to coronavirus. She hinted in one Jan. 29 monologue that billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates is somehow nefariously connected to the pandemic. The monologue has since been scrubbed from Facebook.

“Maybe this is something to consider when you’re reading headlines about how the Gates Foundation is pledging money to fight the coronavirus,” Greenstein said. “Not only is it pledging money in China and in Africa to contain the virus, it’s also involved in finding a cure.”

YouTube channel Yebo published a supposedly leaked video in June 2019 from a supposed whistleblower who works on 5G cell towers and says the technology is dangerous. The video has 3.9 million views on YouTube and more than 270,000 shares on Facebook.

RT did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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