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Bill Gates says “social media got behind” with dealing with misinformation after he was caught up in a COVID-19 conspiracy theory.
The Microsoft founder was falsely accused of wanting to plant microchips in people’s arms via coronavirus vaccinations amid the global pandemic, and the billionaire has insisted apps like Twitter and Facebook need to do more to ensure only factual information is shared online.
Gates was asked on Twitter by Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University Medical School and director of the Global Health Governance Programme, “One major problem has been online misinformation on Facebook & other platforms around vaccines, masks and other interventions — how do we deal with this challenge?”
To which, he replied: “Trusted authorities like @WHO and @CDCgov need more resources to see the pandemic early (surveillance) and to communicate better. Social media got behind on trying to get factual information out – there will be a lot of debate about how to do better on that…
People like you and I and Tony Fauci have been subject to a lot of misinformation. I didn’t expect that. Some of it like me putting chips in arms doesn’t make sense to me – why would I want to do that?”
Gates and his ex-wife Melinda’s Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – which has worked to help stop the spread of malaria, HIV and tuberculosis – continues to provide support throughout the pandemic.
Gates previously said: “We’ve taken an organisation that was focused on HIV and malaria and polio eradication, and almost entirely shifted it to work on this.
“This has the foundation’s total attention. Even our non-health related work, like higher education and K-12 [schools], is completely switched around to look at how you facilitate online learning.”
As well as providing funding to help fight the disease, they have been focusing on eliminating extreme poverty.
A statement read: “While we’ve announced more than $250 million in funding to date and a commitment to leverage our Strategic Investment Fund toward the pandemic, we are increasingly focusing the expertise of our staff and leveraging our partnerships toward the urgent efforts needed to end this pandemic.
“These are unprecedented times, but our belief that all lives have equal value and our commitment to addressing inequities across all of our work remains more critical than ever.”