What is 5G paranoia? Nashville bombing renews conspiracy theories

Miami Herald/December 28, 2020

By Mike Stunson

A Tennessee man who federal investigators say detonated a bomb in downtown Nashville on Christmas Day may have been paranoid about 5G technology, reports say.

Investigators say they are now looking into Anthony Warner’s alleged 5G paranoia and if it motivated the bombing, ABC News reported. Warner, identified as the suspect in the bombing, was killed in the explosion, the FBI said.

Douglas Korneski, an FBI special agent in charge, told ABC News investigators “are aware of certain things online, and we’re looking at every possible motive.” That includes whether Warner believed “5G technology was being used to spy on Americans,” WSMV reported.

The RV linked to the explosion was parked outside of an AT&T building, and the blast caused internet and phone outages throughout Tennessee and surrounding states. Authorities have not determined a motive as of Monday afternoon.

“Early in 2020, conspiracy theories about 5G technology were considered the greatest domestic threat to critical infrastructure, according to homeland security reports,” Newsweek reported.

Popular Mechanics says 5G towers, though they emit higher frequency radio waves, are “essentially innocuous.”

Some people believe 5G networks could cause cancer, but the American Cancer Society said “there has been very little research” showing radio frequency waves used in the networks are more of a concern than other forms of cellular communication.

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation spread online claiming that 5G networks were linked to the virus.

Some people suggested 5G was being used by “global elites” to spread coronavirus, according to BuzzFeed. In one debunked post, a Facebook user said symptoms of 5G radiation include many of the same symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, shortness of breath and nausea.

A 2018 theory suggested a 5G network test caused hundreds of birds to die. Fact-check website Snopes deemed this theory false.

“No 5G test occurred during the time that the mysterious starling deaths occurred, and the only person suggesting otherwise is someone with a vendetta against both objective reality and 5G wireless,” Snopes said.

Newsweek called Tennessee a “hotbed” of anti-5G activity, noting several instances where 5G towers were attacked in the state starting in Dec. 2019. Four fires at cellphone towers in Memphis were believed to be intentionally set, causing $600,000 worth of damage, WMC reported.

There’s also the theory China is using 5G towers to transmit wireless communication that allows the country to spy on the United States. Popular Mechanics says the myth is “pretty low on the totem pole of possibilities.”

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