IN SHORT: Every few months we see another outlandish and untrue rumour about tech billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates go viral on social media. This latest claim, from known misinformation peddler News Punch, is no different and should be ignored.
A series of social media posts in March 2023 claim an arrest warrant is out for Bill Gates, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft and creator of global public health charity the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
(Disclaimer: Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made up 26% of Africa Check’s income in 2021.)
The posts, many containing screenshots or a link to an article on the website News Punch, have spread widely across Facebook, here, here, here and here, and Twitter here, here, here, here, here and here.
Some, like this one, were viewed hundreds of thousands of times. A video of a person making the same claim, originally posted to TikTok, was also posted to Twitter, and links to the News Punch article were posted to TikTok, like here and here.
The posts and news article claim that a Philippines court recently issued an arrest warrant for Gates for “‘premeditated murder’ linked to vaccine roll out”.
According to the article, a judge said Gates was “wanted in connection with hundreds of thousands of deaths”. His connection to the “murders” is not explained in the article, beyond him being “the founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”.
News Punch, formerly called Your News Wire, is a site known to spread false information on various topics. But is there a hint of truth to this story? We checked and – spoiler alert – no.
Gates is one of the world’s richest people. The Gates Foundation, just one of his philanthropic missions, is a large charity with an interest in public health.
The foundation has long been involved in vaccine development and manufacturing for various diseases, including Covid-19. According to their website, the foundation has committed over US$2 billion to responding to the pandemic.
But the Gates Foundation and some of Gates’s other charities have been criticised for maintaining global health inequities in the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines.
As one of the main public figures in the pandemic response, Gates has also become central to various conspiracy theories. News Punch has published many of these, implicating Gates in some of the heavy hitters, from brain-chip mind control and cancer-causing lab-grown meat – all false – to a multitude of Covid conspiracies.
It may come as no surprise, then, that Africa Check could not find any evidence to back up the claim that an arrest warrant for Gates had been issued by the Southeast Asian country of the Philippines.
In response to an enquiry by news service Reuters, a spokesperson for Gates also debunked the claims, saying no Philippines court had issued such a warrant.
The News Punch article claims that an institution called the “Heinous Crimes Court” in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, had issued the warrant. But, as Reuters confirmed with a law professor who worked in the country, no such court exists in the Philippines.
The claim in the posts and the article about an arrest warrant for Bill Gates is false.
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