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Bill Gates has said he hopes the 'evil' conspiracy theories about him go away.
The tech billionaire opened up about the global pandemic and its wider effects, which have seen he and Dr Anthony Fauci pulled into the centre of misinformation shared on the internet.
Speaking to Reuters, Gates said he was surprised by claims that he was somehow orchestrating the entire pandemic for his own ends.
He said: "The presence of social media plus a pandemic is a combination that has never been tried before.
"Nobody would have predicted I and Dr Fauci would be so prominent in really evil theories.
"Theories like did we create the pandemic and are we trying to profit from it and they go on and on.
"I am very surprised by that, I hope it goes away."
The Microsoft co-founder went on to say that he believes people need to be more critical of the theories and outlandish claims they read on the internet.
The 65-year-old said: "The percentage that is really misled from conspiracy theories? It is unclear to me.
"There are millions of messages out there where my name and Dr Fauci's name is used, but do people really believe that stuff?
"We are going to have get educated over the next year and understand how does it change people's behaviour.
"How should we have minimised this, either working with the social media companies or explaining what we were up to in a better way."
Despite the misinformation, however, Gates said he was encouraged by the approach taken by Joe Biden since he was elected President.
He added: "From a foundations point of view, the fact that Joe Biden took that decision of global vaccine money was super important.
"The fact that he joined the WHO and has appointed smart people is important."
Last year, Gates came out and denied claims from conspiracy theorists that he is trying to use the coronavirus pandemic for either financial or other types of gain.
After being told by CNN host Anderson Cooper that researchers found 16,000 posts espousing conspiracy theories about him, the 64-year-old said that while they may offer 'titillating and simple' explanations, the claims were unfounded and that he and his charity were working to help people.
He said: "Our foundation has given more money to buy vaccines to save lives than any group, so you just turn that around, you say we're making money and we're trying to kill people with vaccines, by inventing something.
"We need to get the truth out there. I hope it'll die down as people get the facts. The numbers kind of blow my mind, and it's not just the fringe people [spreading conspiracy theories] that you would normally think of."
He added: "It's a bad combination, a pandemic and social media, and people are looking for a very simple explanation - who's the bad guy here?"
Featured Image Credit: PA
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