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Survey Identifies the Top 5G Mobile Myths Among UK People

Friday, October 23rd, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 2,352
5g mobile broadband users uk

A new Censuswide survey of 2,006 UK adults, which was conducted during August 2020, has helped to reveal roughly what proportion of people believe various different myths and falsehoods about the latest generation of ultrafast 5G based mobile broadband technology. Sadly 7% still believe 5G is connected to the spread of COVID-19.

The outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year brought with it a bizarre new conspiracy theory, which saw supporters ignore basic science in the mistaken belief that the new generation of 5G signals had helped to create or even directly transmit the virus. Both ideas are as preposterous as they are lacking in any credible foundation (see our 5G fact check).

Despite this some of those same people promptly proceeded to attack both masts and engineers, including those who were working on unrelated fixed line services. Leaving aside the fact that a biological virus couldn’t be more different from radio waves, or that it’s spreading just as fast in areas with no mobile signal at all, the one sure way to actually hurt people during a pandemic is by breaking the law and cutting off vital communication services.

The new survey, which was commissioned by Compare the Market, decided to delve into this a bit more by asking their sample to answer “true“, “false” or “don’t know” to several myths surrounding 5G. The good news is that the majority of respondents were able recognise the falsehoods, but a sizeable proportion still hold to some common myths.

Summary of Survey Results

While 23% are unsure, 7% believe 5G is connected to the spread of Coronavirus. Some 13% of 25-34-year olds believe this to be true – that’s the highest percentage than any other age group, followed by 10% of those aged 16-24 who also agree they are connected. Belfast has the biggest percentage of residents who also deem this to be true (12%), followed by Bristol (11%) and London (9%).

21% believe 5G is being used as a spy for surveillance. And while 17% of the whole of the UK think this is true, another 44% answered “don’t know“. Similarly, more than a fifth of 35-44-year olds and 21% of Brighton residents agree with this statement, more than anyone else across the UK.

30% of 16-24 year olds believe trees are being cut down due to 5G – that’s the highest percentage among the age groups, and is followed by 27% of those aged between 35 and 44. Overall, 21% of the UK believe this to be true and it’s Belfast’s residents that agree with this more than any other city (28%), followed by Bristol (27%) and Glasgow (25%).

18% of Bristol residents say they believe that “5G is making the human population stupid“. The city is closely followed by Belfast (16%) and Leeds (15%), while the national average here sits at 12%. 16-24-year olds are the age group that believes this the most with 17% agreeing to the myth.

11% say they believe that 5G radiation lowers human immune defences with Bristol residents buying into this theory the most (18%). A further 10% think 5G causes cancer, brain tumours or infertility, and it’s Belfast that has the highest percentage of respondents (18%) who agree with the latter statement the most.

In fairness the second point about spying isn’t entirely incorrect. The Government’s Investigatory Powers Act (IPAct) does require broadband internet providers, both mobile and fixed line based, to log basic customer activity for a period of 12 months and that can be shared with law enforcement without a warrant. The content of a communication can also be shared, although this still requires a warrant.

Similarly, the idea that 5G is “making the human population stupid” might make more sense if it was merely a reference to the 7% who believe that the technology is connected to the spread of COVID-19. In reality history shows that, even in well-educated societies, people throughout history are perfectly capable of believing in irrational things (e.g. burning women for being witches or thinking that the 1990s BBC TV series ‘Eldorado‘ was good) and that’s nothing new.

The study also quizzed respondents on statements that are true to see if they believed them. For example, 38% of men believe that self-driving cars will use 5G to talk to other cars, sensors, streetlamps and gas stations, while only 18% of women say they think this is true. In fairness, this is currently just a technology trial.

Meanwhile the Government (here), NHS, Ofcom (here), Public Health England, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) – based on thousands of peer reviewed scientific studies (here), and mobile operators have so far found no cause for health concerns when testing 5G emissions, which are often weaker than existing 4G ones.

NOTE: Ofcom has warned media publications that they could face sanctions if found to be spreading conspiracy claims. As such we’ve taken the rare action of disabling comments on this news item in order to avoid such conspiracy theorists from abusing the system in order to spread disinformation about COVID-19.

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