Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates addressed the onslaught of “crazy” and “evil” conspiracies circulating on social media about his role in the COVID-19 pandemic in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.
“Nobody would have predicted that I and Dr. Fauci would be so prominent in these evil theories,” he told Reuters. “I am very surprised by that.”
As part of his philanthropic efforts through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has donated more than $1.75 billion to support the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, funding efforts including treatments, diagnostics and the development of vaccines, according to Reuters.
As a result of his involvement on the global stage, he and others, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have been the target of online conspiracies since the beginning of the pandemic a year ago. (RELATED: BILL GATES SAYS LIFE WILL NOT RETURN TO NORMAL UNTIL 2022)
Gates largely attributes this phenomenon to the ubiquity of social media, citing the “millions of messages” that are exchanged on the various platforms.
Conspiracy theorists argue that Gates created the pandemic in order to profit from the spread and exert control over people, according to Reuters.
“Do people really believe that stuff?” Gates questioned. (RELATED: Dr. Fauci Was Among Highest-Paid Federal Officials In 2019 — He Banked More Than President Trump’s $400,000)
Gates suggested increased collaboration with social media companies and transparency could potentially mitigate the spread of misinformation. “We’re really going to have to get educated about this over the next year and understand … how does it change peoples’ behavior and how should we have minimized this?”
Later in the interview, Gates expressed his confidence in President Joe Biden’s pandemic response strategy, his decision to rejoin the World Health Organization, and the government’s newfound trust in Dr. Fauci. “I’m excited about the team that Biden has picked.”