A conspiracy theory is a belief that particular events are the result of a conspiracy made by powerful forces with negative intent. They serve as a coping mechanism to give meaning to something one is unable to control or understand. Concerns about 5G’s effects on our health and privacy have led to the development of several conspiracy theories. Some believe, for instance, that the implementation of 5G technology has led to the emergence of COVID-19. Others argue that COVID-19 lockdowns are simply a front for installing more 5G equipment to be used to monitor society. Conspiracy theories often overlap – 5G conspiracy beliefs have merged with several other theories such as the belief that a small group of people controls the world.
It is important to point out that these examples are just that – examples of conspiracy theories. They are not based on facts or scientific research and lack critical thinking. Distrust in governments and the media is often the basis behind conspiracy thinking, and often gets further fuelled by the algorithms of social media platforms. Social media is designed to show us more of the things we have previously shown interest in, putting the user in a sort of bubble – also known as an “echo chamber”. In an echo chamber, the user’s existing opinions get reinforced – someone who has previously shown interest in conspiracy theories will be fed even more of these through their social media.
James Meese, Jordan Frith, Rowan Wilken, 2020, COVID-19, 5G conspiracies and infrastructural futures
Wasim Ahmed, Josep Vidal-Alaball, Joseph Downing, Francesc López Seguí, 2020, COVID-19 and the 5G Conspiracy Theory: Social Network Analysis of Twitter Data
Michela Del Vicario, Gianna Vivaldo, Alessandro Bessi, Fabiana Zollo, Antonio Scala, Guido Caldarelli, Walter Quattrociocchi, 2016, Echo Chambers: Emotional Contagion and Group Polarization on Facebook
Darcia Narvaez, 2010, Moral Complexity: The Fatal Attraction of Truthiness and the Importance of Mature Moral Functioning
Daniel Jolley, Jenny L. Paterson, 2020, Pylons ablaze: Examining the role of 5G COVID‐19 conspiracy beliefs and support for violence