Bill Gates insisted last week that ‘conspiracy theories’ involving the Gates Foundation and the Microsoft founder’s alleged hidden agenda to use vaccines as a cover for his nefarious micro-chipping project were utter nonsense. Apparently, Gates failed to grasp that this is exactly the kind of denial that a villainous billionaire might give.
Whether or not you take the Gates-related ‘conspiracy theories’ seriously, the Microsoft founder clearly sees them as enough of an annoyance that he felt compelled to address the trend again during a Tuesday morning appearance on CNBC.
Responding to a question from interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin about social media’s role in spreading the conspiracies, Gates on Wednesday denied conspiracy theories that accuse the tech mogul and philanthropist of wanting to use coronavirus vaccines to implant tracking devices in people, and also said he hoped that the public’s understanding of “the truth” would improve as the world gets closer to a vaccine.
“Very incorrect things that are very titillating…can spread much faster than the truth on social media, and we’ve always seen that with vaccines….social media can make that even worse…these social media companies can see what is being said on their platform and take things that are absolutely wrong and remove those things from the platform.”
“How you divide that up, and draw that line…these are complex issues. It has been a spreader of lot of things…and how do you strike a balance?”
Would Gates take a harder line, the Sork asked, citing Mark Zuckerberg’s commitment to be “all over” this type of misinformation.
Gates responded that Facebook can’t intervene on Whatsapp since communications between users are encrypted. “Is that appropriate?” Gates said, expressing some skepticism about the risk of fostering criminal activity, though he said he doubted it would come up in tomorrow’s hearing.
Asked to weigh in on the anti-trust push targeting Silicon Valley, Gates offered a mealymouthed response that was tantamount to a soft-endorsement of the status quo as far as ‘Big Tech’ is concerned.
“I do think people underestimate that natural competitive forces do come into this space…as mobile phones came in that was very competitive…even without massive regulation, there will be a lot of innovation,” Gates said.
Is that really a surprise? After all, Gates and his wife may have donated nearly $2 billion to the vaccine research cause over the past few months. Gates insists that all he wants is to help defeat the coronavirus, and that may be true. But intelligent, capable people can still fall victim to their own biases. And whether a vaccine will ultimately bring about the end of the global pandemic still remains to be seen.
In February, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it was donating $100 million to vaccine research and treatment efforts for the coronavirus. It was announced as part of the WHO’s request for $675 million in contributions to fight the spread of the virus. In June, the foundation pledged an additional $1.6 billion to the Gavi vaccine alliance, an organization focused on efforts to immunize children amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But whatever Gates hoped to accomplish with these responses, adding his voice to the growing chorus of people calling for expanded censorship on social media certainly isn’t going to help dissuade his critics.
If anything, that just leads to unnecessary controversies like this: