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Dozens of birds killed in a storm, not by radiation

April 8, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Photos show that “electromagnetic radiation” killed birds in Italy.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The birds were killed during a storm in February in Rome. Strong winds knocked over a tree where the birds had nested. 

THE FACTS: A group of photos circulated on Facebook on April 8 showing dozens of dead birds scattered in the street and on sidewalks. Posts featuring the photos falsely claimed the birds died due to “electromagnetic radiation.” 

“Electro-Magnetic Radiation, not fake Viruses,” wrote a Facebook user who shared the photos. 

Another Facebook user posted the same photos with the false caption, “Can you imagine what the 5G will do to us.” 

The photos date to Feb. 4 when strong winds knocked over a tree on Viale del Policlinico, a road in Rome. According to Italian media outlets, when the tree fell over, a man was injured and a group of birds were killed since they had made their nests in the tree. Photos and video published at the time showed the fallen tree next to dozens of dead birds. 

In recent weeks there have been conspiracies swirling arounds 5G wireless service. False posts on social media have tried to link 5G to COVID-19, a respiratory disease that has swept around the world after emerging in China late last year. 

The World Health Organization states on their website that 5G in wireless technologies does not pose health risks. “To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.” 

The International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)is a Germany-based scientific organization that issues exposure guidelines on electromagnetic fields. The website states that “5G exposures will not cause any harm providing that they adhere to the ICNIRP (2020) guidelines.”


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: