If you’re in the market for something to protect you from 5G signals, you’ve got no shortage of options. Want a hat that will protect your cranium from all those bothersome electromagnetic frequencies while you’re out and about? For the low price of just $55, such a hat can be yours. Need a blanket to ward off invisible 5G radiation while you sleep? That can be had for a mere $500.
And that’s just the beginning. In addition to the aforementioned accessories, Florida-based outfit DefenderShield also sells gear for all your companions — including a $113 dollar belly band for pregnant women hoping to protect their unborn babies, and a $125 pet collar that creates an anti-5G force field around your furry friends.
Heck, even if you’re not sure what kind of protection you need, a company called Shield Your Body offers 30-minute-long consulting sessions where a “Certified Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist” will assist you in picking out the right equipment — all for the totally reasonable price of just 100 bucks.
As you’ve probably noticed, these items have a few things in common. First and foremost, they’re complete and utter snake oil (more on that later). But in addition to being totally bogus, they also have another thing in common: They’re selling like hotcakes.
The booming business of bogus
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“People realize with the addition of more and more wireless devices, the massive push to 5G, and now 5G towers being set up everywhere, the risks associated with electromagnetic radiations are stronger than ever,” says Dimitry Serov, the CEO of Aires Tech, a publicly traded Canadian company that sells a broad range of questionably marketed radiation-blocking technologies.
In September 2020, Aries Tech posted record sales for the third fiscal quarter and made 322% more revenue than it did in the same period the year before. On marketplaces like Amazon, anti-5G devices are flying off the shelves — and accumulating rave reviews in the process. As per Google Trends, searches for “5G EMF [elecrtomagnetic field] protection” have hit breakout levels in recent years, with people looking up that particular query 5,000 percent more in recent years than they did before.
So what gives? Cell phone radiation fears have been around for as long as cell phones have existed, so why is it that these anti-5G products are enjoying such breakout success compared to their 3G and 4G predecessors?
Well, as it turns out, this latest wave of EMF protection profiteering has been a long time in the making, and the folks behind it have been building up for years just to arrive at this moment.
Keeping it in the family
For the people behind these manufacturers, cashing in on the misguided 5G panic has been something of a long con. Most of them (and their families) have spent much of their lives peddling misinformation and common hoaxes online — though it’s unclear whether they’re knowingly selling useless products, or they truly and wholeheartedly believe that they’re helping protect people from dangerous radiation.
“This stuff [electromagnetic radiation] is harmful,” Shield Your Body’s founder, R Blank, told Digital Trends, “but there’s no way to get rid of it. So there had to be ways of making technology safer. That’s why I started it.”
Blank says he launched a line of “anti-EMF” products after he “experienced” co-writing “Overpowered,” a book on the biological effects of device radiations, with his late father, Dr. Martin Blank, who R calls “the most important EMF scientist in the world.”
More accurately, though, Martin Blank was one of the most public voices behind the theory that cellular signals are detrimental to humans, and he even urged schools to take precautions while dealing with technology around children. The BioInitiative, a related report he co-authored, is found to be often misused by conspiracy theorists.
In the case of Aires Tech, it’s a family affair, too. The company’s CEO, Dimitry Serov, told Digital Trends it started as a result of his family’s research into the “harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation.” His father, Igor Serov, launched a questionable research firm in 1998 called Aires Research, which sought to harmonize the material existence of “animate and inanimate natural objects.”
Similarly, DefenderShield’s Daniel DeBaun co-authored another reasonably popular book, “Radiation Nation,” with his son, Ryan DeBaun, on modern technology’s health risks and safety.
“Governments and large organizations are mostly money-driven, and the precautionary principle is not at the top of their priorities,” says the elder DeBaun, who claims to have held several executive positions at telecom giants like AT&T and Bell Labs, none of which Digital Trends could find a record of.
The comprehensive efforts to back and propagate the loosely substantiated scientific evidence behind technology’s health impact appear to have paid off, as is clear from sales figures. However, how exactly the anti-5G accessories function remains a mystery to everyone except for, apparently, the people buying and selling them.
Pseudoscience and technobabble
Aires Tech says its tags come equipped with a semiconductor that absorbs charges from the atmosphere to form a hologram. This hologram, Serov claims, restructures and transforms “the EMF haze into a more biologically compatible form.” DefenderShield and Shield Your Body, on the other hand, told Digital Trends that their products use a combination of “various metals and materials” to block frequencies.
Experts Digital Trends consulted, however, found no evidence to back the efficacy of these products. “These products are elaborate theatrics and completely ineffective,” commented Dr. David Robert Grimes, an assistant professor of biomedical physics at the Dublin City University.
Grimes also discovered an alarming number of “pseudoscience red flags” on Aires Tech’s website and concluded their explanations are “buttressed with technobabble.”
Plus, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), on multiple occasions, has debunked such devices, labeling them as “cell radiation scams.”
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) confirmed to Digital Trends that there’s no need for shielding accessories as long as proper guidelines are followed. It added that any external attempt to reduce exposure may result in more emitted power, “since the device might think the connection gets worse and thus the effect will be counteracted.”
On top of that, reviews performed by Digital Trends found the scientific evidence and studies these companies quote on their websites unreliable and weak. All of Aires Tech’s scientific publications, for instance, have been authored by Igor Serov, its founder, or Andrew Michrowski, who’s on the management board. Shield Your Body’s research papers are either outdated, written by R Blank, or discuss unrelated science, like how cell phone signals hinder sparrows’ ability to navigate in the air.
More importantly, it’s well-established by reputed bodies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ICNIRP that radiations from your gadgets or network towers are not detrimental to your health, rendering these “anti-5G” devices unnecessary in the first place.
Blame it on social media
Grimes says the reason these “fringe groups” have continued to flourish, despite warnings from official bodies, is that they’ve become “far more adept at exploiting social media to push their debunked claims, understandably frightening the unwary.”
That’s true on multiple levels, and while social media companies have tried to censor misinformation, they have failed to do it consistently. Even a cursory review of any of these social networks can land you in a flood of posts that sell or promote EMF-protection accessories or other related quackery. On TikTok, for instance, posts tagged with “#emf” have been watched by over 70 million times. This same type of misinformation has recently allowed malicious groups to mislead people into vandalizing 5G network towers.
Recent reports have revealed that most people who believed there’s a link between 5G and COVID-19 get a great deal of their information on the virus from YouTube.
On top of that, Digital Trends discovered that tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, and Google had let sellers, including Aires Tech, run advertisements despite explicit content policies against EMF-shielding products and pseudoscience.
Influencer marketing plays a key role as well. Companies including Aires Tech offer generous affiliate programs that reward people every time someone buys a product from their shared link. In an investor report, Aires Tech said it pays affiliates 10% to 20% commission. Amazon’s affiliate commission, in comparison, ranges from 1% to 9%.
While Amazon, TikTok, and Facebook refused to comment on the topic, a Google spokesperson told Digital Trends that “ad or video content that promotes harmful health claims or ‘miracle cures,’ including claims linking 5G to COVID-19, are a violation of [Google’s] policies. When we find content that violates our policies, we quickly remove it.”
Dr. John Dawson, the deputy head of the Communications Technology research group at England’s University of York, believes that the word “radiation” has become emotive since it’s also associated with activities that are actually harmful to human health, like X-rays. That relation is now being exploited to disseminate hoaxes about 5G and other radio waves on the internet.
But at 5G and mobile levels, he adds, “you might achieve more heating by putting a woolly hat on than using your phone.”
Despite the science so evidently against them, anti-5G sellers have thrived by combining an almost cultlike following, the breakneck distribution of social media, and the abundance of e-commerce platforms. And with little to no regulatory oversight, they’ve managed to expand their line of fraudulent products with zero repercussions. As the false 5G narrative continues to gain momentum and the technology arrives in other regions, these accessories’ sales will only soar higher. The question is: Can the facts win out?