Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates says he has been taken aback by the volume of crazy and evil conspiracy theories that have been spreading about him on social media since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview, on Wednesday, 27 January, Gates described the reports spreading on social media as crazy.
He, however, said he would like to get to the bottom of what’s behind them.
There have been diverse theories making the rounds on social media concerning the deadly virus, its origin and how it has evolved.
The wild theories involving Gates, whose foundation has donated over a billion to coronavirus vaccine and treatment research, include unfounded claims he developed COVID-19 in a lab and wants to use the vaccine to implant microchip tracking devices into billions of people.
Another leading public figure in the fight against the pandemic, Dr Anthony Fauci, has also become a target of several conspiracies, including claims he created the virus and is now blocking natural cures for it.
“Nobody would have predicted that I and Dr Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories, he said.
“I’m very surprised by that and I hope it goes away, but do people really believe that stuff? We’re really going to have to get educated about this over the next year and understand how it changes peoples’ behaviour and how we should minimize this.
Gates wife, Melinda Gates, also spoke out about the theories involving her husband, she said: ”Disinformation causes more death, it causes people not to do the right things.
”It’s time to have more government regulation over the social platforms, so we don’t get these conspiracy theories that cause more death.
The genesis of the distorted theories is believed to date back to a 2015 video, when, during a TED Talk in Vancouver, Gates issued a dire warning that, if anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it is likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war.
Conspiracy theorists claim the premonition is proof that Gates had prior knowledge about the coronavirus.
In the first few months of the pandemic alone, between February and April last year, conspiracy theories and misinformation linking Gates to the origins of COVID-19 were mentioned more than 1.2 million times on television and social media, according to a New York Times study.