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Debunked: No, Bill Gates didn't brief the CIA in 2005 about a vaccine to immunise religious fanatics

The hoax video shows a man who has a passing resemblance to Gates – but it’s a hoax.

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A VIDEO BEING circulated on social media supposedly shows billionaire tech founder Bill Gates briefing the CIA in 2005 about vaccines .  

In the video, a man who shares a passing similarity to Gates, speaks about a new vaccine he has developed which will dampen religious fanaticism. 

One version of the video on YouTube has had over 29,000 views in the last week. It has also been shared widely on Facebook. 

The video has been circulating for nine years, however, and is a hoax. 

In the video, shot in a small low-tech lecture room with tiered seating, a man is giving a presentation to at least six people about a project he says is called FunVax, short for vaccine for religious fundamentalism. 

He tells the group that people who are strongly religious express a specific type of gene, which can be targeted by the vaccine to help “eliminate [their] behaviour”. 

He says that the vaccine “would turn a fanatic into a normal person and we think this would have a major effect in the Middle East”. 

A caption superimposed on the video reads ‘Bill Gates briefing to CIA’ and a date stamp says 04-13-05.  

However, the video does not show Bill Gates. High-definition versions of the video show that it is not him. 

A spokesperson for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation confirmed to Reuters that the video does not show Bill Gates. 

In the video, the man discusses a gene called VMAT-2 which suggests a genetic basis for spirituality. However, Scientific American notes that there is no evidence that such a gene exists. 

Snopes notes that earlier versions of the video which circulated between 2011 and this year did not mention Bill Gates’ name, and it is only in recent months, as conspiracy theories about the coronavirus have spread, that the Microsoft co-founder’s name has been attached to it. 

It is unclear whether the video was made as a deliberate hoax, as a prank or as a potential film. Two factchecking organisations, Snopes and LeadStories, found details of a failed KickStarter campaign to raise money for a documentary about FunVax, with a website registered two months before the video first began to circuate in 2011, according to one website. 

The claim is one of several hoaxes being circulated widely on social media about Bill Gates. Two separate posts this week falsely claimed that Gates was being charged with crimes against humanity and genocide. 

Source: Sawmorerocks98/YouTube

 

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 

STOP, THINK AND CHECK 

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere. 

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate. 

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie

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Christine Bohan

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