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๐Ÿ“š The Most Widespread COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories Target Bill Gates


๐Ÿ’ก Newskategorie: IT Security Nachrichten
๐Ÿ”— Quelle: tech.slashdot.org

In a 2015 speech, Bill Gates tried to warn that the greatest thread to humanity was an infectious virus, reports the New York Times. "Anti-vaccinators, members of the conspiracy group QAnon and right-wing pundits have instead seized on the video as evidence that one of the world's richest men planned to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system." In posts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he is being falsely portrayed as the creator of Covid-19, as a profiteer from a virus vaccine, and as part of a dastardly plot to use the illness to cull or surveil the global population. The wild claims have gained traction with conservative pundits like Laura Ingraham and anti-vaccinators such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as Mr. Gates has emerged as a vocal counterweight to President Trump on the coronavirus...Misinformation about Mr. Gates is now the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods tracked by Zignal Labs, a media analysis company. The misinformation includes more than 16,000 posts on Facebook this year about Mr. Gates and the virus that were liked and commented on nearly 900,000 times, according to a New York Times analysis. On YouTube, the 10 most popular videos spreading lies about Mr. Gates posted in March and April were viewed almost five million times.... "Bill Gates is easily transformed into a health-related meme and figure because he's so well known," said Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor at Syracuse University who teaches digital ethics. "He's able to function as kind of an abstract boogeyman...." Mark Suzman, chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Gates's main philanthropic vehicle, said it was "distressing that there are people spreading misinformation when we should all be looking for ways to collaborate and save lives...." The first mention of a baseless conspiracy connecting him to the outbreak was on Jan. 21, according to the Times analysis. That was when a YouTube personality linked to QAnon suggested on Twitter that Mr. Gates had foreknowledge of the pandemic. The tweet was based on a coronavirus-related patent from the Pirbright Institute, a British group that received funding from the Gates Foundation. The patent was not for Covid-19; it was connected to a potential vaccine for a different coronavirus that affects poultry. But two days later, the conspiracy website Infowars inaccurately said the patent was for "the deadly virus." The idea spread. From February to April, conspiracy theories involving Mr. Gates and the virus were mentioned 1.2 million times on social media and television broadcasts, according to Zignal Labs. That was 33 percent more often, it said, than the next-largest conspiracy theory: that 5G radio waves cause people to succumb to Covid-19... By April, false Gates conspiracy theories peaked at 18,000 mentions a day, Zignal Labs said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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