What do troll factories have to do with the 5G scare?

Quite a lot, claims this article by the New York Times. This is of course highly relevant as it underpins the roll-out of the ecosystem of connected devices.

Yet even as RT America, the cat’s paw of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has been doing its best to stoke the fears of American viewers, Mr. Putin, on Feb. 20, ordered the launch of Russian 5G networks in a tone evoking optimism rather than doom.
“We need to look forward,” he said, according to Tass, the Russian news agency. “The challenge for the upcoming years is to organize universal access to high-speed internet, to start operation of the fifth-generation communication systems.”

I find it hard to believe that the 5G scare will block European developments, but if it’s true that there is a coordinate information warfare effort, that’s something to take note of if things start heating up.

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I do we think we should take notice.

In the US they got FOX to spread the conspiracy already and when that happens - according to research by Harvard, it will be part of the conservative right narrative in no time.

Also listen to this nice podcast about it - because the China-US angle, and Huawei spy stuff also matters - your thoughts?

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I have a genuine question (maybe 2). Why do we need 5G? From what I can tell it purely supports vertical scaling, bigger and better - more data, faster. But that will come at a greater energy cost, price tag, and support proliferation of yet more devices and needless consumption. Is this benefiting humanity?


But that will come at a greater energy cost, price tag, and support proliferation of yet more devices and needless consumption. Is this benefiting humanity?

You know, I completely agree on a human level. But is there a lot we can do about it? Probably not. It will come, because there is a lot of money to be made from pushing more bits through the air. So then it becomes a race to the top/bottom (depending on your perspective) as with all technologies, and the answer becomes - because if we don’t have it, but China/Russia/Nigeria/Brazil do, Europe will lag behind economically. Is it a satisfying answer? Not really. But at least in this case, this particular technological race doesn’t seem like it will have hugely detrimental environmental effects.


The scare comes when you assign specific health effects to something when there is no evidence linking them. So, yeah, 5 G is too new for any of that. But it is also being rolled out as a world-wide inevitability - which it is - with no studies and no plans for studies (from industry apparently - why should they, nobody is forcing them to do it) when in fact it is known that cellular frequencies and some high frequencies used in certain ways and in proximity in certain strengths, can have measurable effects. So it is possible and to say otherwise or suggest otherwise is, in my view, irresponsible. But on the other side of it, assigning this or that bad health effect discredits just about anyone who even questions the safety of the technology. Because we have to be able to question it without coming off as an uninformed luddite.

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A couple of things about the NYT story…
I don’t know why anyone buys something they see on RT. It’s propaganda. The story says, “Virtually all the data contradict the dire alarms.” That is true because the dire alarms are too dire for what is really known about the tech. Nobody knows.

Also one of the people mentioned who was the “expert” on one of those RT alarmist shows, " On Feb. 7, a segment claimed that “5G Tech is ‘Crime under International Law.’” Its featured expert was Arthur Firstenberg, who once charged that a neighbor’s wireless gear had hurt his health. He sued for $1.43 million in damages but lost after pressing his claim for five years."

That guy Arthur Firstenberg spent time up here on the north coast of California doing the same thing scaring everyone about cell towers and wi-fi. He got a lot of people freaked out about it so bad the parents made the high school dismantle the school wifi network. But that guy is generally considered a real BS artist who lives in his car and goes from place to place scaring everyone who will listen.

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Exactly. Even from a purely technological perspective, it’s not needed. What we’d need is data efficiency when we use the existing infrastructure. In the last 20 years, nobody cared about data efficiency in networks. It’s always about more data throughput, without asking if the data we send still means anything much? My guesstimate is that >95% of the data transferred does not mean anything. The exact same content and behavior could be transported with the remaining 5%. For example, we could remove all the bloated JavaScript of advertising trackers. Or (but that’s a recent innovation) we could transition from JPG images to BPG (astonishing side-by-side comparison here and here) or to the (even better and completely free of patent nonsense) AVIF format.

What 5G will enable is even more data bloat, and because bloated rather than size-optimized data is “convenient” on the developer side, that’s what we’ll get.


It’s true - the difference there on those images is astonishing - seems a no-brainer.

I totally agree with the developer issues and it’s simply compounded by the marketing for the new and shiny products too - you can watch 4k streamed video on your phone and take 50 Mega pixel photos to be stored on the cloud - This is what the consumer wants. The consumer doesn’t realise they can’t see the difference between 740 and 1080 res on their phone let alone 4K and that their 50 mega pixel photo could be printed out at high res to be the size of a football pitch.

Over the past year I’m starting to believe that this would be a good thing - some days I look into a crystal ball and see that a crash is inevitable - and if it’s sooner rather than later maybe we can scrape through.

I don’t want poverty but I do want alternatives and the economy is currently driven by capitalist wealth, debt and illnesses. If we completely crash then maybe we would be more resourceful and people would turn their attentions to the real problems looming… (it’s a view I’m nurturing out of frustration and currently being in the UK one, with tongue in cheek, hope will happen if Brexit does finally go through - starting to address real issues being the only good thing I can think that will happen from that).

I’m really hoping that this Internet of Humans work I’ve stumbled upon will look into the “alternatives” to the perceived need for the likes of 5G so that there is either 1) the opportunity to do something before it’s too late or 2) have some airbags ready for when it is too late. Maybe we can invent/discover/create something that is an antidote and contribute towards the changes we need to see.

We run the risk of trying to integrate with the innovations generated from capitalist machinery and becoming lost in it or part of the problem, I’m not suggesting we ignore these innovations but I feel we need to assess their worth for humanity and adopt accordingly, challenging where necessary and looking for the integration hot spots to convert and transform others.


and that’s the whole thing with disinformation, unfortunately a lot of people do believe RT - and they can’t phantom you still believe “mainstream media,” a sheeple who hasn’t dared to take the red pill yet. :frowning:

I just wrote a little thing about it:

It’s striking how fast Lenihan’s article took flight in right-wing media, and the news of Twitter’s action, in turn, was immediately picked up by many of the same news sources. RT ran with the headline “Twitter bans researcher who exposed journalist ties to Antifa.”

But according to Yochai Benkler, a law professor at Harvard and a co-director of the university’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, this turns out is actually not surprising at all. In his book, co-authored with Harvard researchers Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts, “Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics,” they set out how we shouldn’t blame Facebook for the spread of falsehoods, but right-wing media instead.

Most American news outlets try to adhere to facts. When something proves erroneous, they run corrections, or, as Benkler and his co-authors write, “they check each other.” Far-left Web sites post as many bogus stories as far-right ones do, but mainstream and liberal news organizations tend to ignore suspiciously extreme material. Conservative media outlets, however, focus more intently on confirming their audience’s biases, and are much more susceptible to disinformation, propaganda, and outright falsehoods (as judged by neutral fact-checking organizations such as PolitiFact). ” (The New Yorker)

(you can read my full piece here)

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you guys should read this, very interesting breakdown of how Breitbart pushed the hillary email dicourse into focal point in run up to elections. Lots of lessons in there…



Do we have a separate topic here?

FWIW, I agree with you, @matthias. I am fascinated by the value theory implications. If we make a claim that advertising is not an economic good, but rather an economic bad; and that much our bandwidth goes to carrying it, it follows that we could reduce our bandwidth and increase our well-being at the same time. Increased well-being comes from two sources: a less bloated Internet, plus the additional stuff we could produce with the resources saved from not producing 5G. Libraries, hospitals, bicycle lanes, whatever.

Value theory, value theory… :nerd_face:


Interesting thread. I had not thought that much about the energy required to push out all those ads. And in general yes there seems to be a common belief that storage bandwidth and throughput are a commodity limited only by current iterations of technology with no consideration of what gets consumed just to bring it to us.


Data efficiency is an interesting one. It links together the Scuttlebutt discussion on what technology users and problems it makes sense to focus on and the solutions/models that you develop to serve them. Some mobile health applications like Grace Health and Lilly are using both what they are calling AI, and data efficiency (at least in the sense of the data costs for the user), as part of their business models. It could be an interesting separate thread no? @johncoate @hugi


And that’s yet another interesting thread. For most of these applications, data transfer efficiency can be infinite by just keeping all the data on the user’s devices. That is a super rare model of doing things now, though, as they all want that “new gold” on their own servers.

I just remember the time when I had to find a cloud-free smart bathroom scales. In the end, it all came back to open source hardware and software again. Commercial vendors just can’t be trusted to not want our data.


Efficiency is always defined in relationship to some goal: effort per unit of goal achieved. If your goal is revenue, collecting data (even data that you do not necessarily need to provide your core service) may be efficient if you can resell them. It goes back to value theory, since the concept of value encodes societal goals.

The GDPR principles state that you should not collect personal data, unless you need them to provide the service that you are out to provide.

So in Google’s case, if you sign in with them, they see your searches, know where you are, know you do or don’t use their office suite, look at certain kinds of YouTube vids, etc etc, and they rioll that up into a much more valuable mega-profile. They might, and surely do, contend that they need all that data so they can serve the best ads for the best rate, and that this is a service they provide to you. But in fact they do not need to combine all that data since it really doesn’t do much of anything for you.

As for 5G, what I don’t want is what we have now: tech companies with a stake in the outcome telling us everything is fine and safe (I lived through the 50s where that was what the nuclear industries did), a government that will not step up to its role in protecting the public by making an objective determination (usually because the lobbies are too strong and donate too much money) and a bunch of noise from the troll factories spreading FUD all over.

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Time to come back to this discussion. During the COVID19 crissi the 5G scare gets further instrumentalized and tied together with conspiracy theories.

Did anyone have experiences with arguing and trying to explain to people subscribing to that?

What kind of conspiracy theories do you mean? And what is the “scare”? Do you mean objections to potential health effects of widely-deployed 5G?

people are combining it with corona. Claiming that the vaccinations against corona (once they exist) are to be activated by 5G or something like that. Truly out there stuff.

communication towers in UK have been burned down and the investigations are going in the direction of people having done it due to believe in corona being connected to 5G.

The conspiracy theories so to say have “sprung over” and mutated together.

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Oh right. Yeah that is nuts. 5G has actual issues around it…no need to dream up new things.