The devastating coronavirus crisis that has ripped across the world this year has fuelled the rise of the phrase ‘the new normal’ as people adapted to a different way of living.
But as the wave of the pandemic rolled from the Far East to the West it also catalysed a surge in more abnormal thinking and behaviour.
Conspiracy theorists have made false and unsubstantiated claims the virus was caused or helped by 5G masts, which were being built to support the new wireless technology that quickens internet speed.
Thugs attacked mobile phone towers in the UK, Europe, the US and other parts of the world over false fears they were harming health and spreading the killer virus.
The fake beliefs were made popular by social media sites like TikTok and by now-infamous conspiracy theorists including former footballer David Icke and ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers.
Since then, the fake theories have led to the dangerous anti-vaxx movement, which has been supported by suspended NHS nurse Kate Shemirani.
Most chillingly, bomber Anthony Quinn Warner, who attacked an AT&T building in Nashville in the US on Christmas Day, was possibly spurred on by his belief 5G cellular technology was killing people.
Here, MailOnline looks at the key members of these false conspiracy groups how they have peddled their lies during coronavirus crisis.
Conspiracy theorists have made unsubstantiated claims the virus was caused or helped by 5G masts, which were being built to support the new wireless technology that quickens internet speed. Pictured: A tower in Bradford this year
Thugs attacked mobile phone towers in the UK (pictured, Huddersfield), Europe, the US and other parts of the world over fears they were hampering their health
The belief has been spread by infamous activists such as former footballer David Icke and ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers. Left: London. Right: Huddersfield
Ex-footballer turned conspiracy theorist who believes the world is run by reptiles
David Icke is a notorious conspiracy theorist who often makes headlines for his controversial comments.
Born in 1952, the 68-year-old former professional footballer has written more than 20 books and once tried his hand at punditry and sports reporting.
In 1991, he appeared on Sir Terry Wogan’s TV chat show where he declared himself as the son of God in a now-infamous clip which he describes as a ‘defining moment’.
It was from here that he began writing his books and making bold predictions including that the world would end in 1997.
Other bizarre claims he has made include that the royal family are lizards.
David Icke is a notorious conspiracy theorist who often makes headlines for his controversial comments
David Icke is pictured middle row, third from left during his days as a goalkeeper for Hereford United
In fact, Icke believes that an inter-dimensional race of reptilian beings called the Archons has hijacked the earth and are stopping humanity from realising its true potential.
He thinks that all world leaders are reptiles and that the ‘alien lizards’ want to microchip everyone and run a global fascist government.
According to Icke, the ‘reptiles’ also abuse and sacrifice children.
At one stage he refused to wear anything but the colour turquoise because it ‘channeled positive energy’.
Icke’s claims that the September 11 attacks were faked. He previously said that the 9/11 attack was used to justify the war on terror, and takes issue with the timing pointing to the fact that there were military exercises going on when the planes hit the World Trade Centre.
The 68-year-old has said the universe is made up of ‘vibrational’ energy, and consists of an infinite number of dimensions that share the same space, just like television and radio frequencies, and that some people can tune their consciousness to other wavelengths.
Another of his more recent theories is rooted in what he claims is the modern world’s obsession with technology.
He believes there are three stages of the way smart technology is evolving.
Handhelds such as mobile phones are the first and the second are wearables such as watches and glasses.
The third stage will be implantables, used to control the human mind and dictate the way we see the world.
‘Transhumanists say that by putting technology inside us we are going to be super human but we’re actually going to be sub-human. We will become computer terminals,’ Icke said.
Icke described the concept that humans are alone on Earth as insane, and that the ‘ignorant’ people that believe there are no extra-terrestrial species are ‘programmed from birth’.
Most recently, he has suggested the coronavirus is linked to the 5G mobile network, a claim which has never been backed up by science.
The pandemic saw Icke’s profile soar as lockdown-deniers widely shared his claims about the virus.
Icke joined hundreds of maskless anti-lockdown protesters in Birmingham on Halloween, with demonstrators calling Covid-19 a ‘hoax’.
He also attended a mass anti-lockdown rally in Trafalgar Square in August, organised by Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers, and urged police to ‘stop serving the psychopaths’.
The Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), claimed in May that Icke’s conspiracies about Covid-19 had been viewed more than 30 million times.
He has since been banned on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Former Labour leader’s brother arrested five times for breaching Covid restrictions
Jeremy Corbyn’s older brother Piers has been detained five times during the coronavirus pandemic which he brands a ‘plandemic’.
The 73-year-old claims Covid-19 is a ‘hoax’ and is the founder of a group called No New Normal.
He is close to footballer turned conspiracy theorist David Icke, who believes global events are decided by reptiles.
Jeremy Corbyn’s older brother Piers has been detained five times during the coronavirus pandemic which he brands a ‘plandemic’
Piers Corbyn, older brother of former Labour leader Jeremy, at a protest against coronavirus restrictions and plans for a Covid-19 vaccine
Conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn is pictured with his brother Jeremy, the former Labour leader
They have appeared at anti-lockdown marches and spoke on stage at one in Trafalgar Square in central London.
Piers told the Times when the Pfizer vaccine was rolled out: ‘This vaccine is experimental and the vaccine producers have no liability on sickness or death.
‘The whole thing is one of the main motives of the new world order [a conspiracy theory hypothesizing a secret totalitarian global government].’
He told a protest in London: ‘Bill Gates wants vaccinations to control you and to control women’s fertility to reduce world population. ]
‘That is his game and he’s going to get loads of money off it, and you will pay with your money and your life.’
He told another protest in Liverpool: This COVID-19 virus is a hoax. There may have been something around in China, was it the same thing, was it a bio-weapon, who knows.
The older brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was the main organiser for squatting groups in London between 1972 and 1982 (pictured in Maida Vale in 1975)
‘But it was used to unleash the most monstrous power-grab the world has ever seen. And what we have got to do, we have got to break their lockdowns, break all their measures or we lose.
‘We are not just walking around protesting, saying to the Government please do this, please do that. We are not protesting, we are fighting, in order to break every move they make.’
In November, it was revealed that Piers was targeted by Scotland Yard’s undercover police for nearly two decades.
He was targeted because he was the main organiser for squatting groups in London between 1972 and 1982.
Piers helped to organise the All London Squatters Federation, the Squatters Union and the Squatters Action Council.
MI5 opened a file on Mr Corbyn in 1969 after he attended anti-Vietnam War rallies. The Left-wing activist joined the International Marxist Group (IMG) in 1971 and attended demonstrations about issues from Ireland, anti-racism and anti-Fascism to trade union struggles for better pay and conditions
Corbyn pictured with Jennie and Charles and their daughter Melissa outside Elgin Avenue. The photo is thought to have been taken in the late 1970s or early 1980s
His advocacy of squatting put him on the radar of the Metropolitan Police’s shadowy Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) unit from 1971 to 1990.
Though squatting in residential property only became illegal in 2012, undercover police referred to squatting in a 1974 report as the ‘nursery of extremists’.
MI5 also opened a file on Mr Corbyn in 1969 after he attended anti-Vietnam War rallies.
The Left-wing activist joined the International Marxist Group (IMG) in 1971 and attended demonstrations about issues from Ireland, anti-racism and anti-Fascism to trade union struggles for better pay and conditions.
Piers was a member of the Labour Party and served as a councillor in the London Borough of Southwark from 1986 to 1990.
He left the party due to his opposition to the Iraq War.
Piers is an opponent of climate change theory and believes that the media, Met Office and ‘corrupt scientists’ are brainwashing the public as part of a Qatar-run conspiracy to keep oil prices high
Suspended nurse whose own son has distanced himself from her
Mother-of-four Kate Shemirani, a former nurse of 35 years, is adamant coronavirus is a hoax and claimed its symptoms are linked to the roll-out of 5G.
She has argued the vaccine is a political tool to gain access to and change people’s DNA, has likened lockdown to the Holocaust and insisted dancing NHS nurses will ‘stand trial for genocide’.
She wrote: ‘Murder. Genocide. The NHS is the new Auschwitz.’
Mother-of-four Kate Shemirani, a former nurse of 35 years, is adamant coronavirus is a hoax and claimed its symptoms are linked to the roll-out of 5G
She has argued the vaccine is a political tool to gain access to and change people’s DNA, has likened lockdown to the Holocaust and insisted dancing NHS nurses will ‘stand trial for genocide’
Miss Shemirani, with Piers Corbyn at the anti-vaxx protest in Trafalgar Square in August. She has claimed to have first-hand accounts of patients being taken to hospital during the coronavirus pandemic who were deliberately allowed to die
She is a headliner at anti-lockdown rallies, having joined conspiracy theorists David Icke and Piers Corbyn at a protest in August.
She directed yobs to confront riot police whom she branded ‘dirty dogs’ and mocked for wearing face masks at a rally in September.
Her son Sebastian, 21, said he is concerned about the impact his mother’s claims could have on public health and branded her ‘dangerous’ and an ‘attention-seeker’.
Miss Shemirani has been suspended for 18 months to avoid the risk of harm to the public.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council is investigating her statements linking coronavirus vaccines to 5G mobile phone technology.
Miss Shemirani said nurses who made accusations against her did so because they were overweight and jealous. She added: ‘We all know what women can be like.’
She has reportedly resigned as a registered nurse.
From attacking 3G masts in the 1990s to torching towers in 2020: The history of 5G conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theories over mobile networks have a long history, with protesters regularly ripping down 3G base stations near schools and homes back in the early 1990s.
In those days people feared the masts were a cancer risk and whether there was enough testing conducted – claims also hurled against WiFi as it was unveiled around the same time.
Even before Covid-19 emerged in December last year large swathes of people were already fearful of the health dangers posed by the installation of 5G.
One of the first targeted attacks on a mast came in 2018 when a man scaled a lamppost to tear down what he thought was a 5G antenna in Gateshead.
Later, in May last year, a picture of a man wearing a hazmat radiation suit – supposedly to install a deadly 5G tower in the US – was thought to actually be a cleaner or painter sprucing up the mast and covered up due to bird droppings or liquid splash back.
And just before the coronavirus struck, in December 2019, conspiracy theories went rampant online after images of hundreds of dead starlings were shared on a road in North Wales.
So it is perhaps unsurprising that conspiracy theorists leapt on the coronavirus pandemic to peddle yet more negative claims about 5G.
These started to emerge in public and private social media groups as early as January – two months before the UK went into its first lockdown – as users shared ideas that 5G was weakening people for Covid-19 to capitalise on.
But since then theories have varied wildly, including that the disease is caused by 5G and the virus is a myth, the pandemic is a hoax so the government can install 5G as well as spurious notions about Microsoft founder Bill Gates such as that he started the ‘plandemic’ to control people.
Some even suggest Covid broke out in Wuhan in China due to the early presence of 5G masts there.
Dr Joseph Downing, a fellow in nationalism at the London School of Economic, explains: ‘These conspiracy theories rely on a grain of truth or a grain of fact which is then extrapolated forward into something that’s ludicrous.’
As lockdowns were introduce globally and people’s personal freedoms were reduced, the extremity of the claims appeared to ratchet up.
Online whispers turned to violence as people attacked towers, with 10 European countries seeing masts torched as well as numerous cases of maintenance workers being assaulted.
Meanwhile only last week a bomber called Anthony Quinn Warner attacked an AT&T building in Nashville in the US on Christmas Day, possibly spurred on by his belief 5G cellular technology was killing people.
Such was the severity of the 5G conspiracy issue, an IPSOS study found 10 per cent of interviewees held a negative opinion towards the technology.
The research also tested some myths and found while a small minority believes in them, a substantial amount of Europeans are not sure they are false either.
The myths around 5G appear to have been spread mostly through social media pages, with giants such as Facebook, YouTube and Whatsapp cracking down on misinformation as the pandemic went on.