Telcos in New Zealand and elsewhere must be aghast at what is happening with 5G currently.
Imagine embarking on a huge technology upgrade project that is necessary but costs heaps, only to have 5G being used as a political football in trade wars, with national security scares mixed in.
If that wasn't enough, 5G is now being weaponised as part of an information warfare campaign in Western nations.
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A report by the Global Disinformation Index, an organisation supported by Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office and private industry, outlines how the Stop 5G campaign kicked off in 2016 and, over the next few years, spread on the internet.
It's psy-ops at internet scale, with 5G protests upgraded to a new level with some pretty wild disinformation, and some of it being stoked by overseas governments.
From Russian government sponsored claims relayed via YouTube that kids suffer nosebleeds, cancer and learning difficulties from 5G, which is connected to heavy-metal chemtrail sprays, meaning it's part of a geo-engineering plan to wipeout life on Earth.
I'm not making that up. You'll find that totally over the top nonsense easily on Facebook and other social media, in books and sales pitches for bogus radiation protection goods on Amazon, as well as an increasing number of websites.
Even though the above and other 5G-related claims are obvious crazy talk, we shouldn't ignore it because they mesh with other conspiracy theories and further warp people's minds.
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GDI says the conversations around 5G started around five topics: health, environment, big government, national security and the economy. These are covered by traditional media and fringe opinion sites, and are politicians' talking points.
Citing Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd, who founded the Data & Society Research Institute, GDI notes that that framework "creates frequent opportunities to weaponise both the news cycle and political rhetoric by inserting more polarising and fabricated talking points before pivoting into full-blown conspiracy theories".
It has led to some pretty astounding things being said and published, as the adversarial messaging payload took effect over the past few years.
I looked at the account of a local meme-poster on a Facebook Stop 5G page, who had been on the social network since 2009.
The first years until 2017 have posts about riding motorbikes, travelling and drinking beer.
From 2017 onwards, however, the person started posting anti-1080 memes, that vaccines contain cells from aborted foetuses, anti-Semitic tropes used by Nazis, and how 5G is part of a "LED killing grid". All of it connected to each other.
It could very well be that the person's account has been hijacked by trolls from somewhere; I didn't get a response to my contact attempts to ask why the person started to believe the conspiracy theories rather suddenly.
What we should do about this dangerous phenomenon isn't clear.
Have you tried reasoning with the often educated middle-class people who inexplicably enough are happy to hand over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to unscrupulous hucksters selling rubbish like shungite, anti-radiation sleeping bags and EMF detectors?
If you have, you'll find that they don't want to listen to counter arguments. You are brainwashed, the enemy, and scientists lie since anyone with opposing views is part of the conspiracy.
A stunning example of that can be found on local entertainment blog 13th Floor . Last January, 13th Floor invited Dr Matthew Dentith, who analyses conspiracy theories and fake news, to speak to Jaz Coleman, formerly of industrial punk band Killing Joke, who firmly believes in them.
The whole thing turned into a raging monologue by Coleman. Dentith's thoughts on the matter were completely drowned out by Coleman shouting him down for about 19 minutes and then leaving the studio.
Hard as it is, though, we need to take these people seriously.
They are mostly white, have money, can vote and have the time and inclination to amplify horrific disinformation in their circles and beyond, without ever taking responsibility for it.
Why would computational propagandists not take advantage of such a powerful resource to create societal discord and harm?
With the enormous reach of social media, a surprising amount of people can be easily and cheaply manipulated into disrupting healthcare, politics and technological advances like 5G in New Zealand and other Western nations.
As disinformation campaigns intensify and play on people's misguided fears, conspiracy theory believers are likely to become violent.
Already, Department of Conservation workers have been threatened and shot at by anti-1080 extremists.
There's an overlap between the 1080 and 5G antis. We need to think about what might happen when they realise that regulations have changed and their angry voices and petitions won't stop mobile technology from being rolled out.