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The fight against disinformation and conspiracy theories about the novelIt has been almost as hard as fighting the pandemic itself. And a new poll found that a conspiracy theory about Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is taking hold.
A conspiracy theory that Gates plans to use a futureimplanting microchips in billions of people to monitor their movements has gained a following, particularly among Fox News viewers and Republicans, according to the survey.
YouGov's representative poll of 1,640 American adults conducted by Yahoo News found that half of the Americans surveyed who say Fox News is their main source of television news believes in the conspiracy theory. It is the largest group to respond this way, followed by self-styled Republicans and "voted on by Donald Trump in 2016": 44% of both groups said they believed the conspiracy theory was true. 26% of Republicans surveyed said it was false and 31% said they were unsure.
Representatives of Fox News, the Republican Party, the White House and the Trump 2020 campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which the founders of the same nameand Nor did it immediately respond to a request for comment.
The survey results underscore the extent to which conspiracy theories have surpassed public perception of the coronavirus. The virus, which has infected 1.6 million people in the United States and killed 96,000 Americans, has changed daily life since it was first detected in December last year. Governments around the world have ordered citizens to isolate and shelter in place in an effort to curb the spread of the virus and reduce stress in hospitals and morgues.
As people adapt to these efforts, they have also begun to read and spread conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Such theories address everything from the political ambitions of the people involved in the response to whether the coronavirus is as deadly as governments and health agencies report on how and where the virus originated (experts say it comes from wild animals) . Many people mistakenly believedin the spread of coronaviruses that they over it.
, and everyone has said they are , adding links to more information and in some cases that companies believe it could unknowingly harm people.
Gates has become a center of attention among conspiracy theorists, in part because of his high-profile efforts to vaccinate people around the world, as well as his recent media appearances in the past two months. He also criticized government responses to the crisis, as in a March editorial published in The Washington Post.
"There is no doubt that the United States missed the opportunity to get ahead of the new coronavirus," he wrote in a column published March 31. "The elections that we and our leaders make now will have a huge impact on how quickly case numbers begin. Down, how long the economy is closed, and how many Americans will have to bury a loved one because of COVID-19." .
An analysis by The New York Times and media watcher Zignal Labs in April found that the misinformation about Gates was the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods.
The Yahoo and YouGov poll in May did not find that everyone believed in these conspiracy theories. Forty-five percent of independents, 52% of Democrats, and 63% of people who say they voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 said they don't believe in the Gates and vaccines conspiracy theory.
The same survey also found that only half of Americans now say they intend to get vaccinated "as long as a coronavirus vaccine is available." 23% of people say they will not, and 27% say they are not sure.