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Too Many of You Still Believe in 5G Conspiracy Theories

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A woman walks past posters debunking the 5G conspiracy theory causes covid-19
Photo: William West/ AFP (Getty Images)

5G conspiracies are nothing new. They’ve been tirelessly debunked several times and yet a 2021 survey found that roughly 24% of people believe that at least one 5G conspiracy is true. C’mon, really?

The data comes via a new research survey by (IMA), a website that specializes in ISP comparison shopping based on zip code. According to the findings, roughly two-thirds of respondents first heard a 5G conspiracy theory in the past year. Unsurprisingly, online communities were where most people first heard a 5G conspiracy theory, followed by a family member or friend sharing an article.


The theory that 5G causes cancer was most widely known at 50% of respondents. Other common theories included 5G spreading covid-19 (36%), China or Bill Gates using 5G to spy on or brainwash Americans (35% and 32%, respectively), and lockdowns being used as a diversion to install 5G towers (30%). In encouraging news, however, most people didn’t believe them. For example, only 10% of those familiar with the 5G cancer theory actually believed it. On the flip side, fringe theories had a higher percentage of believers. While only 20% had heard 5G damages trees and plants, nearly a quarter of those people believed it to be true. Depressingly, 15% believed the U.N. is using 5G to depopulate the planet, 19% believed 5G can kill birds, and 13% believed China uses 5G to spy on Americans.

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It bears repeating that none of these conspiracies are true and have been repeatedly debunked. Most can also be traced back to other popular conspiracy theories like government coverups, military mind control experiments, and radiophobia, the fear that high-frequency waves will make you sick. (Fun fact: the first mentions of radiophobia date all the way back to the early 1900s.)

To be fair, this is only one survey of roughly 1,000 people who were familiar with 5G. Plus, self-reported data always comes with caveats (i.e., faulty memories, exaggeration, etc.). However, we do know that many Americans are utterly baffled by 5G. A Decluttr survey of 2,000 U.S. smartphone owners found that one in three Americans believe they have 5G phones and that 62% of them claimed to have seen faster speeds. This includes iPhone owners on every major carrier, despite the fact this survey was conducted before Apple even launched a 5G iPhone. It’s hard to find concrete numbers on how many Americans actually have 5G compatible phones and data plans, but Statista estimates that in August 2020 5G phones had a mere 13.5% market share in America. Of’s survey respondents, 70% said they hadn’t switched over to 5G yet. This is a lot of ways to say most Americans know diddly squat about 5G.

But perhaps the most baffling result in IMA’s survey was that 35.9% of 5G conspiracy believers also say that they currently use 5G. So, apparently, not even wackadoodle 5G conspiracy theories can stop conspiracy theorists from being addicted to their phones.