Social media to blame for the spread of COVID conspiracies, Gates says


  • As the coronavirus pandemic has spread around the world, with millions infected and thousands dead, billionaire Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Bill Gates has pledged a quarter billion dollars to combat the disease through his foundation.
  • Gates criticized social media giants on Tuesday for enabling the spread of coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories. “When you let people communicate, you have to deal with the fact that certain incorrect things that are very titillating can spread very rapidly compared to the truth,” Gates said in a CNBC interview.
  • “Social media can make that even worse,” Gates said. “The degree to which these media companies can see what’s being said on their platform, and take things that are absolutely wrong and get rid of those things or slow those things down – that’s very tough.”
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Billionaire Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Bill Gates has advocated for pandemic preparedness for years, and famously gave a TED talk in 2015 that warned of the potentially staggering death toll a worldwide pandemic could create. 

As the coronavirus pandemic has spread around the world, Gates has pledged $250 million to fight the disease and create a vaccine, and he’s emerged as a leader in the worldwide pandemic response.

Beyond dealing with the spread of the disease itself, another critical vector has emerged in the fight: Misinformation and conspiracy theories.

And it’s social media, Gates said in a new interview, that’s helping to spread both. 

“When you let people communicate, you have to deal with the fact that certain incorrect things that are very titillating can spread very rapidly compared to the truth,” Gates said in a CNBC interview. “Social media can make that even worse.”

Look no further for evidence backing up Gates’ claim that the viral spread of “Plandemic,” a documentary with dangerous misinformation about coronavirus – including false claims that vaccines are ineffective, and stay-at-home orders suppress the immune system. “Plandemic” had over 8 million views by the time YouTube and Facebook removed it, and that damage is hard to undo.

“The degree to which these media companies can see what’s being said on their platform, and take things that are absolutely wrong and get rid of those things or slow those things down – that’s very tough,” Gates said.

You can see the full interview from CNBC’s Squawk Box right here:

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