Today in computational propaganda: according to Russia’s RT America news, 5G will kill us
Many times when I mention “computational propaganda,” I get blank stares–until I start recounting examples. Today, I came across a new one and decided to share. It is courtesy of my Russian friends; especially the ones from the global version of Soviet–er–Russian state media, RT. The subject is 5G technology, a term you’ve probably heard at the margins–unless you’re a total tech and communications geek like me. So let’s start with some background.
5G is the next generation of cellular network, just check out the video above. The biggest benefit is 5G allows for more data to be throughput faster. Meaning higher definition, low-latency, no-stutter mobile video. Faster and richer gaming experience. More robust transmission quality should also enable advances in sensor, augmented and mixed reality technologies. Every country has their own 5G policy, but the global leaders for this cycle seem to be China, followed by Europe and the US.
Why is 5G important? Think about it like this–4G made Netflix and the YouTube mobile app work properly. The amount of money to be made with a new generation of faster mobile hardware and software boggles the mind.
This story starts off like those in many other developed countries trying to get ahead of 5G, in this case Russia.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), Russia’s largest telecommunications operator and digital services provider, announced that they used Samsung’s 5G network and devices to successfully demonstrate a series of 5G scenarios including HD video calls, ultra-low latency video games and high-definition video streaming.
“Our goal is to adapt new technologies to commercial use in cooperation with industry-leading vendors. Today’s trial with Samsung Electronics demonstrates that 5G is not an academic theory, but presents a nearly ready set of practical network solutions that will allow customers to manage a broad range of everyday tasks and open new opportunities that are unachievable on 4G.” commented Pavel Korotin, Director of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region, MTS…”
This is the language of the public test, where pols can point to something of substance that serves as evidence of forward progress. Based on the language, it seems like Russians can expect a very robust 5G network within a few years. Next, we move to October 2018.
“Russia will lead the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and launch 5G in 2020 with a goal of covering 80 percent of the country’s population by 2025. According to a study from the GSMA, other countries in the CIS region including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, and Uzbekistan will likely follow Russia and launch 5G by 2025.
The GSMA report touted the 5G launches by Russia and the countries in the CIS as having the potential to transform industries. However, it noted that they will need a supportive regulatory framework that includes available, and affordable, 5G spectrum….”
This is pretty much public affairs vision boilerplate for “we’re a modern country working to stay competent on emerging technology, and we anticipate rolling it out to our friends as well as our people.” I would imagine that there were more than a couple of handshakes and pats on the back for the effort.
Moving on to February 2019.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed in the coming years to organize in Russia access to high-speed Internet and start operation of the fifth-generation communication systems (5G).
“This year, it is necessary to adopt a master plan for the development of the digital economy infrastructure, including telecommunications networks, data storage and processing facilities. In this, we need to look forward. The challenge for the upcoming years is to organize universal access to high-speed Internet, to start operation of the fifth-generation communication systems,” Putin said on Wednesday in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly…”
Within 8 months, Russia made 3 major announcements on the future of 5G in the homeland. Putin committed the nation to it. In fact, a chart in the SDX story mapped out the percentages of how many Russian households will be wired for 5G by 2024.
So, what’s the problem?
All of this sounds wonderful, unless you’re the head editor at the US arm of RT America, the US source of Kremlin-approved computational propaganda. For some reason, 5G is very, very bad for humans.
Here’s one of their takes, from January of this year, more than a month before President Putin’s mandate to make 5G a reality in Russia:
Why the dual messaging? It’s not a communications breakdown, its computational propaganda. The goal is to further exploit people’s fears of new technology (remember stories that 4G supposed to melt our brains?), and if possible maybe gain a little time for Russian 5G projects to become more viable for export. If they can plant false stories on how much harm 5G can do, perhaps the development campaigns in the US and other countries stall, giving Russian telecom companies time to catch up. If one country uses 5G Russian technology, the cost of the campaign is paid for.
RT has been billowing so much of this stuff on the internet that the New York Times and other straight news and business publications picked up the story. The Times writes, “RT America aired its first program assailing 5G’s health impacts last May, its only one in 2018. Already this year, it has run seven. The most recent, on April 14, reported that children exposed to signals from 5G cellphone towers would suffer cancer, nosebleeds and learning disabilities.”
For the record, there are next to no studies proving that cellular technologies harm humans. In October 2018, longtime communications technology writer Simon Rockwell wrote a good piece debunking computational propaganda about cellular technology.