Bill Gates draws intense fire in coronavirus conspiracy theories


Bill Gates

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $250 million to fight COVID-19.

James Martin/CNET

Bill Gates has reportedly become a prime target for conspiracy theories and misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic. Posts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter about the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist falsely claim he created COVID-19, is looking to profit from a vaccine or is behind a “plot to use the illness to cull or surveil the global population,” according to a report Friday from The New York Times. 

Misinformation that links Gates to the coronavirus includes more than 16,000 posts on Facebook this year that were liked and commented on nearly 900,000 times, according to the Times, as well as popular YouTube videos posted in March and April that have been viewed nearly 5 million times. Misinformation related to Gates is the “most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods” tracked by media analysis firm Zignal Labs, according to the Times. 

Gates has been an outspoken about the coronavirus pandemic, calling for a nationwide shutdown in the US and criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization

“Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds,” Gates tweeted on Wednesday. “Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $250 million to help with the global response to the virus.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has rapidly spread across the globe. The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the outbreak a pandemic. There are now over 2.1 million confirmed cases globally, with more than 671,000 in the US as of Friday.

The Gates Foundation didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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