In an interview with Reuters, entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates said he was shocked by "crazy" and "vile" conspiracy theories targeting him during the coronavirus pandemic, including claiming to use Covid-19 vaccines to microchip people.
Conspiracy theorists have targeted Gates and the US President's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The "theory" circulating on the internet is that they both created the SARS-CoV-2 virus to control the world's population and that vaccines against the disease contain a traceable microchip.
"Nobody predicted that I and Dr. Fauci would play such a significant role in these truly vile theories," Microsoft's co-founder told Reuters Wednesday. "I am very surprised by this. I hope it will pass," he added.
Gates' wife, with whom he runs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates, also referred to conspiracy theories about her husband in an interview with US CBS.
"This misinformation causes more deaths. It causes people not to do what they should (not vaccinate - PAP)" - she assessed.
"If you pay attention to one conspiracy theory on the Internet, we know that social media will offer you many, many more," she noted. "The time has come to introduce more government regulation on social media platforms," she stressed.
Gates also referred to this type of misinformation in October 2020, telling the Wall Street Journal that it was the thrill that draws people to conspiracy theories and that solid facts are harder to spread.
"There is certainly a human weakness for very exciting information, for example, that someone created this virus or that there is some kind of conspiracy - these things can spread very quickly," he said.
According to him, digital platforms make it possible to spread disinformation "much faster than the truth" and must find a way to preserve free speech while "slowing down" or annotating content that can harm public health.
The Gates couple has donated approximately $ 36 billion through their foundation to education, health and anti-poverty organizations, including at least $ 1.75 billion to fight Covid-19.
Joanna Baczała (PAP)