Fact Check: Photo Of Dead Palm Trees Does NOT Prove They Were Killed By 5G In 2024

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Photo Of Dead Palm Trees Does NOT Prove They Were Killed By 5G In 2024 Killed By Heat

Does a picture of palm trees bent in half surrounding a disguised "5G tower" confirm that they were killed by the tower? No, that's not true: A post on social media recycled a previously debunked claim, as the tower in question did not emit a 5G signal and the trees died from lack of water. Lead Stories found no credible information corroborating the story in 2024 when it was republished by a self-described "parody account."

The claim reappeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, on April 29, 2024. It shared an image of what looked like three lifeless palms paired with the following caption:

When you put a 5G tower

inside a fake palm and it kills

real palms around it 😈 🀫

This is how the post appeared on X at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-05-01 at 10.20.20 AM.png

Twitter screenshot(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed May 1 14:20:20 2024 UTC)

In 2024, the user who posted the claim on X stated (archived here) that it was a "parody account." The post did not cite any sources. Furthermore, it omitted the date and the place of the photo shoot.

A broad search across Google News for the key terms visible here (archived here) did not produce any results supporting the claim.

It is not the first time the story has appeared on social media: In 2021, it was popular on the French-speaking segment of the internet.

Back then, AFP (archived here) geolocated the photo. It was taken in Avondale, Arizona, at the intersection of Avondale Boulevard and I-10 in the Phoenix area.

The installation of the "55-foot tall monopalm wireless service facility with associated ground equipment" at the location was approved in 2018. The project's description reveals that the tower was owned by Verizon.

The same document specifies that the requirement to conceal the equipment came from the city. It is a common practice (archived here) in the United States and some other countries. Wireless towers get disguised partly because of aesthetic concerns and partly because of the worries about the safety of the equipment, destroyed on several occasions across the globe under the influence of conspiracy theories.

Google Maps shows that the spot in question was empty in 2019 (archived here). Another photo taken in February 2020 (archived here) captured the installation of the tower, but there were still no trees around, suggesting that they were planted later.

The earliest example of the image of bent palm trees uploaded on the internet dates back to December 19, 2020 (archived here).

A similar video on TikTok (archived here) previously discovered by AFP confirms when the scene took place that month.

In 2021, Pier Simeri, then communications manager for Avondale, told AFP that "the three palm trees died because of the lack of water during last summer, which was very hot."

That is consistent with other data.

According to the past weather records available via the National Weather Service, maximum temperatures reached all-time highs in the Phoenix area more than once in 2020.

The same AFP story pointed out that at the time of its publication, the tower was only providing 4G signal, not 5G.

The most recent image of the location on Google Maps taken in June 2022 (archived here) showed the tower surrounded by what looks like three healthy palm trees.

Lead Stories reached out for additional comments to Avondale and Verizon. If we get a response, this fact check will be updated as appropriate.

Other Lead Stories fact checks mentioning 5G can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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