Bill Gates shocked by ‘crazy’, ‘evil’ online conspiracy theories about him

Bill Gates says he’s been shocked at the level of “crazy” and “evil” conspiracy theories that have targeted him during the pandemic.

The Microsoft co-founder and public health philanthropist said he’d become the subject of “crazy conspiracy theories” and millions of online posts in an interview on Wednesday.

Mr Gates has used his personal wealth to help in the global fight against various transmissible diseases for more than two decades, and has donated tens of billions of dollars to philanthropic causes.

However, conspiracists have targeted Mr Gates, along with top US infectious disease doctor Anthony Fauci. A recent false conspiracy circulating online claimed Mr Gates and Dr Fauci worked together to create COVID-19 to control the world’s population. The conspiracy claims coronavirus vaccines contain a traceable microchip.

“Nobody would have predicted that I and Dr Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories,” Mr Gates told Reuters. “I’m very surprised by that. I hope it goes away.”

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“But do people really believe that stuff?,” the inventor asked during the interview.

“We’re really going to have to get educated about this over the next year and understand … how does it change peoples’ behaviour and how should we have minimised this?”

Mr Gates’ wife, Melinda Gates, also addressed the conspiracy theories about her husband.

In an interview with Gayle King, she said she’s heard the theories that “Bill Gates put microchips in the vaccines in order to control people”.

“I certainly heard many of those conspiracy theories … that disinformation causes more death,” she said. “It causes people not to do the right things.

“If you take up one conspiracy theory on the internet, we now know these social media platforms will serve up many, many more. And so people start to go down those dark holes.”

Ms Gates said she believes tech and social media companies need to address misinformation online.

“It’s time to have more government regulation over the social platforms, so we don’t get these conspiracy theories that cause more death,” she said.

Ms Gates also said her husband, who is 65, had received the coronavirus vaccine and had “no issues”.

Mr Gates addressed misinformation online in October last year, telling The Wall Street Journal people were drawn to the thrill of conspiracies, and facts were harder to spread.

“There’s certainly a human weakness to very titillating things, like, someone made this virus, or, there’s some conspiracy – those things can spread very quickly,” he said.

Mr Gates said digital platforms allow for this kind of information to spread “so much faster than the truth”.

He said tech platforms needed to find a way to preserve free speech while “slowing” or annotating misinformation that could cause harm to public health.

The couple founded their non-profit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.

They have personally donated approximately $US36 billion to the organisation, which works in education, healthcare and fighting poverty.

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