Skip to main content

Bill Gates has become a top target for coronavirus conspiracy theories

Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has become the leading target of far-right conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times consulted media analysis company Zignal Labs, which tracks posts on Facebook and found 16,000 posts on the site about Gates and coronavirus which between them had been liked and commented on almost 900,000 times.

This makes Gates the largest target of conspiracy theories on all of Facebook.

Among the bogus conspiracy theories about Gates is a claim that a patent filed by the Gates Foundation-funded Pirbright Institute was for the coronavirus itself; the patent was actually for a vaccine against a different type of coronavirus which affects poultry.

That false claim was shared by the fringe far-right website Infowars and has spread among conspiracy theorists on Facebook in particular.

But Gates isn’t only being targeted by the fringe far-right. Anti-vaccine advocates have also pushed claims that Gates’ support for a coronavirus vaccine is only to line his own pocket. Even Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy and outspoken anti-vaxxer, has shared conspiracy theory memes about Gates, the Times reported.

Gates has been sounding the alarm about the world’s lack of preparedness for a global health epidemic since 2015, when he gave a TED Talk and published a paper in a medical journal warning that there was a “critical need” for stronger public health systems and more funding for monitoring disease outbreaks.

Conspiracy theorists have cited that TED Talk as proof, not that Gates was warning about the pandemic, but that he would use a pandemic to seize control of the global economy, the Times reported.

Gates has recently criticized the U.S. response to the crisis for being too slow, arguing that delaying a shutdown or ending it too early would hasten the spread of the disease.

Gates has also slammed President Trump for his decision to withhold funding from the World Health Organization, arguing on Twitter that, “The world needs WHO now more than ever.”

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, have caused a surge in wild conspiracy theories about its origin, such as wild accusations that the virus is caused by the rolling out of 5G. There is no scientific evidence linking 5G to coronavirus — or to any other health condition.

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.

Editors' Recommendations

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
Bill Gates is ‘super-worried’ about a second wave of coronavirus
Bill Gates

Bill Gates is concerned the United States is vulnerable to a second wave of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 if states are not careful about how they lift social distancing restrictions.

"I’m super-worried about it," Gates said in an interview with Vox's Ezra Klein Show Monday. "Unless they’re very gradual and pick the things that we know don’t raise the rate of infection over one, then you’re going to have this heterogeneity where parts of the U.S. will be doing well and other parts will be doing poorly. The temptation to interdict travel between those parts will be very difficult."

Read more
Coronavirus conspiracy theories and myths debunked
covid-19 rumors

COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, is the biggest story in the world right now, a global pandemic forcing radical changes in society. With people constantly talking about it, it's no surprise that rumors and conspiracy theories are circulating all over the internet. Here are some of the more popular conspiracy theories and rumors, and what they get wrong.
5G is spreading the virus
The rumor: The latest generation of cellular network technology, 5G, has inspired conspiracy theories in the past, with people claiming the radio waves can cause cancer, among other things. Now that the coronavirus is the biggest public health crisis in the world, conspiracy theorists are claiming that 5G is contributing to the problem, either by weakening peoples’ immune systems or even transmitting the virus. The theory is getting boosted by celebrities like Woody Harrelson, and arsonists have set fire to a number of 5G antennas in the United Kingdom, prompting YouTube to remove 5G conspiracy videos.

The truth: First, let’s tackle the idea that 5G can transmit the virus. At the moment, public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe the transmission mechanism like so: “The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

Read more
Bill Gates: We need these 4 innovations to end coronavirus quarantines
Bill Gates

We need to make major innovative strides before we can lift coronavirus quarantines, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote in a new Washington Post op-ed Thursday. 

Gates has been outspoken about taking the coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, seriously. He recently predicted that if the U.S. can get its act together, states could potentially start to reopen by June. But there are still a few key areas we need to focus on for us to return to what was once normal.

Read more