In April, dozens of Texans crowded around Infowars host Alex Jones at an anti-shutdown demonstration in Austin, Texas, chanting “arrest Bill Gates.” A New York-based tech nonprofit falsely rumored to be working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to implant vaccine microchips in people received so many death threats that it contacted the FBI. And a White House petition demanding the billionaire’s foundation be investigated for “medical malpractice and crimes against humanity” amassed half-a-million signatures in three weeks.
Gates, who has announced that his $40 billion-foundation will shift its “total attention” to fighting COVID-19, has been accused of a range of misdeeds, from scheming to profit off a vaccine to creating the virus itself. On April 8, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Attorney General Bill Barr speculated about whether Gates would use digital certificates to monitor anyone who got vaccinated. …The New York Times noted that misinformation about Gates has become “the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods” trending online.
But while these themes have fed the imagination of QAnon, Pizzagate and anti-vaccination proponents since January, conspiracy theories involving Gates actually have a much longer history. Accusations that he has sinister plans to control or experiment on the public under the guise of medical charity date back at least a decade, including to an obscure and different political fight in Ghana.