During an interview at the Wall Street Journal Summit in London, investor and philanthropist Bill Gates complained that the suggestions for suppressing conspiracy theories and “misinformation” on Big Tech platforms are “less creative than we need at this point” and called for “smart solutions.”
When asked about the role of tech platforms when it comes to dealing with misinformation, Gates lamented what he described as a human “weakness” for “titillating things” such as claims that the coronavirus is man-made or “that there’s some conspiracy.”
Gates added that social media platforms allow this type of content to spread very quickly:
“That stuff spreads so much faster than the truth which is, you know, it comes from a bat, you know, we’re still trying to figure out the exact path of transmission.” Gates said. “You don’t forward that the same that way you would the conspiracy.”
He also claimed that anti-mask and anti-vaccine content cause “huge damage” and said this has raised the urgent question of restricting this “weakness” while preserving free speech.
But when he was pressed for specific solutions on how this could be achieved, Gates dodged the question and said “some level of fact-checking is valuable” but “you don’t wanna get to the full Chinese solution.”
“I think, you know, we’ve teed up the question but we need smart solutions which I have not seen,” Gates added.
Gates also stated that “vaccine hesitancy pre-dates the pandemic” and suggested that the US should be thinking about which voices which will help reduce the hesitancy.” He urged “responsible people in both parties” to persuade their followers to get vaccinated and said once the first 20% of people are vaccinated, “I think we’ll get the follow on.”
Gates’ interview at the Wall Street Journal Summit in London is the latest of several statements both he and his wife Melinda Gates have made alluding to the need for social media platforms to censor misinformation more aggressively.
Last month, Bill called for a “discussion about how social media can stop the spread of “crazy” conspiracies while Melinda warned that social media platforms are due a “reckoning” for not censoring enough and called for misinformation to be curbed.
Not only do Bill and Melinda suggested that there needs to be more censorship on social media but they also fund Facebook fact-checkers through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
These fact-checkers defend the foundation from allegations and their fact-checks can determine when a warning label gets applied to posts. These warning labels cut the viewership on Facebook posts by 95%.