Vaccines, profits, population control… solid foundation on the social networks of the world, the theories complotistes with Bill Gates in grand orchestrator of the new coronavirus found a powerful resonance in Africa, sometimes fuelled by public figures.
The charges for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, very active in research on diseases and vaccines on the continent, are not new.
But the pandemic, which has claimed more than 352, 000 deaths in the world-may 27, gave them a new resonance chamber, as shown in the singular case of a publication in Kenya.
On march 15, the governor of Nairobi, Mike Sonko, was broadcasting a video of Bill Gates accompanied by the comment: “Bill Gates had told us about the coronavirus 2015” (sic).
There was the founder of Microsoft warning that the world was not prepared to face a global epidemic. In this sequence taken from a conference of TED Talks five years ago, no mention of the coronavirus or the COVID-19
This publication, however, has experienced a viral record: with over a million shares and more than 38 million views, it has become the publication about Bill Gates the most prolific during the pandemic, according to the tool of social network analysis CrowdTangle.
“This kind of publications exceeds (…) the usual circles when an influencer such as a celebrity or even a media general public, amplifies them,” says Zarine Kharazian of the Laboratory of digital research (DFRLab) of the think-tank the Atlantic Council, based in Washington.
“At this level of diffusion, it spreads in different languages “, she explains.
“Target of choice “
With the emergence of the virus in December in Wuhan (China) and its spread to the entire planet, the rumors of conspiracy linking Bill Gates to the pandemic spread.
Since January, more than 683 000 publications on Facebook, have referred to the founder of Microsoft, generating more than 53 million ” likes “, shares and comments, according to CrowdTangle.
“A point common to the theories of conspiracy that transcends borders, languages and cultures is the distrust of institutions and the “elites all-powerful”, ” stresses Zarine Kharazian.
“The visibility, outspokenness and commitment to Gates on major issues of international health have made it a target of choice,” she said.
These theories complotistes lend him the will to control the populations through the implantation of chips under the skin or tattoos digital, and derive enormous financial benefits of a future vaccine, or say its foundation, has patented a treatment several years ago, before the spread of the new coronavirus.
For others, Bill Gates has created the virus in order to reduce the world’s population, affirmation is very popular on social networks in africa where abounded with false publications relating to vaccines, anti-COVID-19 and tests carried out secretly on the population.
These rumors feed on the memory of scandals medical that have marked the history of the african continent, the experiences of forced sterilization, carried out in Namibia in the Nineteenth century, during the German colonization until the drug testing controversial in the 1990s.
“There have been many cases of medical research conducted in Africa with violations of Human rights “, stresses Sara Cooper, of the centre for medical research Cochrane, located in South Africa.
At the end of march, a publication claimed that infectious diseases physician Didier Raoult (sponsor of a treatment with hydroxychloroquine) had called Africans “not to take the vaccine from Bill Gates” against the coronavirus, because it would contain ” poison “.
Despite the fact that there is no vaccine and that these statements, contradicted by the IHU-Marseille-led by the Pr Raoult, were not found, the publication has been shared more than 47,000 times, before being deleted.
These publications are false or misleading are sometimes found, as in the case of Mike Sonko, powerful relays among public figures.
In Nigeria, the former minister of aviation Femi Fani-Kayode, is very listened to in the christian community in the south of the country, and shared many times publications stating that Gates was a member of a small circle of power that wants to take control of the planet through the coronavirus, technology 5G…
In the Face of the visibility offered by the social networks, the world health Organization (WHO) has made the fight against the misinformation in Africa, ” one of (his) priorities “.
The agency conducts online campaigns, help governments to create information portals and also sensitizes media, in which the hearing is precious.
In Nigeria, it organized a workshop with some fifty journalists. “Journalists and the media are critical to convey the right messages,” says Dhamari Naidoo, responsible for the issues of urgency for the WHO in Nigeria.