By Brian Kingston
I SIT, nowhere exotic for a change, but in my home office. There are two reasons for this. First is it is Friday the 13th and being superstitious I am not going anywhere today. Secondly, I forgot to charge my fully electric car and I wouldn't get very far anyway.
Today the world is in the grip of two major outbreaks. The first is Covid-19, the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and by now will have infected more than 100,000 people. The second is the wave of misinformation that has followed in its wake. This includes rumours about bat soup, bioweapons and, more relevant to this article 5G masts, mindfulness, garlic cloves and Vitamin C injections - which has led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to create a new term to refer to the phenomenon as an 'infodemic'.
This fake news has spread through Amazon, WhatsApp viral texts, and even the mainstream media. Now, according to some data taken from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool that tracks the diffusion of viral stories, a small army of Facebook fringe groups are following suit and pivoting to a new hot topic called 'coronavirus misinformation'. The posts, which are filling innocuous Facebook groups normally dedicated to political discussions and flight deals, are a strange evolution of conspiracy theories that have been knocking around the internet for years. One much-mooted theory, for example, is that the coronavirus has been caused by radiation from 5G masts. One of these posts, on Smart Meter Health Problems UK, garnered 191 reactions, 188 comments and 86 shares - 11 times the normal amount for the group. The group Stop 5G UK, created to air concerns about 5G, is responsible for many of these rumours. CrowdTangle shows it is the fourth ranking group in coronavirus posts over the last week - with 89 posts and 4,695 reactions. Claims coming out of this group vary from China trialling Vitamin C therapy as a Covid-19 cure and that the whole outbreak is a cover story and the deaths are really caused by 5G. The reality is that the 5G radio wavelengths are being scientifically proved to be non-hazardous.
So, my personal views are as follows. Covid-19 has caused the death of several hundred people so far, cancer has killed more than 27,000 per day, coronary disease over 24,000 per day and suicide 4,000 plus per day, every day, in the same period. Am I at home for any other reasons than stated above? No! Will 5G be a real danger to anyone? I sincerely doubt it!
And of more significance to my regular readers of this article, and especially the management of Business Times, I have submitted my piece on time! Well it is Friday the 13th, there was nothing else to do.