Fact Check: 5G Test Did NOT Kill Hundreds Of Birds In The Netherlands

Fact Check

  • by: Ryan Cooper
Fact Check: 5G Test Did NOT Kill Hundreds Of Birds In The Netherlands Not 5G

Did a test for 5G cellular service cause hundreds of birds to die in the Netherlands? No, that's not true: The story has been roundly debunked as untrue. The Dutch Antenna Bureau said it was "not the case" that the birds died because of 5G radiation. Further, the fifth-generation cellular technology does not affect birds and cause mass die-offs, according to the National Audubon Society.

The claim appeared in a post published on YouTube by 4 connectors on December 11, 2018, titled "5G test killed birds" (archived here). It opened:

297 birds fell due to radiation while doing 5G test

Users on social media only saw this:

5G test killed birds

The video was posted in 2018 but has just reappeared in social media groups and is getting new likes and shares. However, it's not true.

The narrator of the video read almost word-for-word an article that was published on November 9, 2018, on thetruthrevolution.net. The story has been taken down from the site, but an archived version can be viewed here. It was likely based on a story published on November 5, 2018, on healthnutnews.com.

This is what the article and the narrator said:

Hundreds of birds have fallen from the sky in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a 5G experiment to see how large the range was and whether the new wireless technology would cause any harm in the local area.

News of the adverse effects suffered by the starlings was slow to break, as initially the birds died in small numbers during the first wave of the experiment. However when a further 150 birds suddenly died at the same time, falling into a public park, people began to take notice and investigate.

What caused the death of 297 birds in a park in The Hague?
If you look around that park you might have seen what is on the corner of the roof across the street from where they died: a new 5G mast, where they had done a test at almost the exact same time as the birds fell from the sky.

Snopes and Fullfact.org have already debunked the video, concluding that the claim the birds fell from the sky because of 5G was false.

On November 14, 2018, the Dutch Antenna Bureau posted a statement on its website (roughly translated by Google):

The Antenna Bureau received questions last week about the sudden death of starlings in the Huijgenspark in The Hague. According to an internet article, this is due to the radiation from 5G antennas. This is not the case. Near the park has not been tested with 5G.

The statement went on to say that transmission masts for mobile communication are bound by safety standards, and measurements were "well below safety standards."

On January 14, 2020, the National Audubon Society wrote a detailed debunking of claims circulating on social media that 5G communication towers are causing mass deaths of birds.

No, 5G Radio Waves Do Not Kill Birds

On the internet, there is often a fine line between a healthy skepticism of new technologies and blatant misinformation. The recent claim that the radio waves from 5G cellular communication towers are causing mass bird die-offs is a perfect example of just how thin that line can be-and how quickly falsehoods can spread across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even in the comments of Audubon magazine's stories.

The non-profit organization is an advocate for the conservation of bird species and habitats, so it would not be in keeping with the group's mission to defend a technology that might pose a threat to its efforts. It traced the origins of the online hoaxes and conspiracy theories about 5G killing birds:

The first part of this saga is fairly straightforward: No, 5G--the fifth generation of our mobile cellular network--does not kill birds. "Radio wave emissions above 10 MHz from radio transmission antennas (including cell telephone towers) are not known to harm birds," says Joe Kirschvink, a biophysicist at the California Institute of Technology who specializes in magnetics, in an email.

Lead Stories has written several fact checks on conspiracy theories attempting to link mass bird die-offs to the fifth-generation cellular technology. No, 5G was not to blame for dead ducks "everywhere," nor was it the reason why birds fell out of the sky in Wales. The technology also did not cause birds to crash into the NASCAR Hall of Fame building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

An article in the U.K. edition of Wired magazine on June 12, 2019, wrote that "5G health risks are the internet's new favourite conspiracy theory."

5G health risks are the internet's new favourite conspiracy theory

Seven years after the arrival of 4G, EE has finally switched on the UK's first 5G networks in six UK cities - and more are coming. The upgrade promises much faster data connections but conspiratorially-minded online activists are convinced that the new technology will bring with it something much more sinister than an end to video buffering.

The article noted that concerns about the dangers of 5G are unfounded:

Despite this, there is no solid evidence that 5G - or any mobile communications network - can have a harmful effect on human health. The upgrade is based on similar technology to preceding mobile networks, and so far no study has found a link between mobile phones and cancer, although research into the area is ongoing.

It's not clear what caused the death of the birds, but Fullfact.org observed that the starlings might have been escaping a predator, and it's not unusual for large groups of birds to die in this way.

Even so, Internet rumors about the dangers of 5G technology persist. They join a growing list of 5G-related conspiracy theories that are being shared to scaremonger the public. You can read more of our fact checks on the topic here:

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  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Read more about or contact Ryan Cooper

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