Bill Gates’ intrigues echo through Africa

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Johannesburg: As the novel Coronovirus wreaks global havoc, Bill Gates is the new bet for conspiracies in Africa around the world, where false online posts by Kenyan politicians have added major fuel to spread misinformation.
Although Gates’ vaccine programs on the continent have long provided enough fodder for speculation, epidemic claims have gained new traction among the epidemic.
On March 15, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko published an old video of Gates warning about the consequences of future epidemics, with the title “Bill Gates telling us about the Corona Virus 2015 (sic)”.
While the clip shows a philanthropist telling the audience that the world was not ready for global outbreaks in his TED talk five years ago, he made no mention of coronovirus.
According to social media analysis tool CrowdTangle, Sonko’s post generated so much interaction among its more than two million Facebook followers that it remains the most prevalent global post about Gates in the COVID-19 era.
So far, it has been shared over one million times and has been viewed 38 million times on social media.
According to the Washington-based Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), it highlights the role played by local public figures in spreading false or misleading claims in various parts of the world, which study disinfection globally.
“They usually travel beyond … niche communities when an influential person, such as a prominent figure, or even mainstream media source, amplifies them,” Zarin Kharazian of DFRLAR told AFP .
“Once they achieve this level of proliferation, they move to languages.”
Rumors about the relationship between the Gates and the current epidemic following the outbreak of the virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019 have enjoyed a particularly widespread appeal among various conspiracy communities worldwide.
Since January, more than 683,000 posts globally from public Facebook pages and groups refer to Gates, producing approximately 53 million likes, shares and views.
“A commonality of conspiracy theories that appear to span boundaries, languages ​​and cultures is a distrust of ‘all-powerful elites’ and institutions,” Kharazian said.
“Gates’s prominent profile, assertiveness and active engagement in international public health work make him a prime target for this particular strain of conspiracy.”
Among the most popular claims in Africa is the idea that Gates wants to control mankind with the use of microchip implants or digital tattoos.
Conspiracy theorists have also alleged that Gates stands to benefit handsomely from a final vaccine and that his foundation patented a treatment years before the novel coronovirus was removed.
Others believe they created the virus for population control – a sensitive point in Africa where most of the back sighted online focused on the issue of a COVID-19 vaccine and experimental testing on local test subjects is.
A history of Western medical misuse in Africa reveals some backlash, said Sarah Cooper, senior scientist at the Cochrane Center for Medical Research Council of South Africa.
“Over the past few decades, there have been various incidents of medical research in Africa, including gross human rights abuses,” he told AFP.
They ranged from forced sterilization experiments in Namibia when it was part of Germany’s colonies in the late 1800s, to controversial drug trials conducted by Western pharmaceutical giants in various African countries in the 1990s.
The mistrust of Western vaccines was recently clarified by the viral post, which claimed that French maverick scientist Didier Rouault warned Africans against using the “Bill Gates vaccine” because it contained “poison”.
The AFP Fact Check rejected the claim – Raoul never commented and a vaccine does not exist yet.
But it struck a chord: The French version of the post was shared more than 47,000 times before it was taken down.
Politicians in Nigeria have also put forward similar narratives, including former minister Femi Fani-Kayode, notorious for sharing misinformation along political and religious lines.
Fanny-Kayode, a strong follower among Christians in southern Nigeria, has shared several posts claiming that Gates was part of a secret power elite who, among other things, dominated the world using coronovirus and 5G technology Wanted to achieve.
As virus numbers and rumors abound, agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) ran an online campaign to stop the spread of misinformation and help governments set up dedicated web portals.
The WHO also organized a workshop with over 50 journalists in Nigeria in February.
Emergency officer Dhamari Naidu said, “Journalists and media are important to deliver the right message to the community.”
“We want you to convey the right information to the people, and contribute to prevent the spread of rumors.”

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