The video claims to show Gates briefing the CIA in 2005 about a vaccine to immunize religious fanatics. The video, which is obviously faked, is getting gobbled up by online conspiracy theorists who’ve latched onto the Microsoft co-founder as the mastermind behind the coronavirus pandemic.
The video started circulating about a week ago and is now gaining steam on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter — despite those companies’ repeated pledges to contain the spread of disinformation. One version of the video had amassed close to 37,000 views in just a few days.
A spokesperson for YouTube says they reviewed the video and it does not violate their policies against harmful misinformation related to COVID-19, nor does it violate their other community policies against hate speech, spam, or violence.
The pixelated video shows a man who looks vaguely like Gates (but sounds nothing like him) giving a presentation to an audience of about six people. The presentation consists of a series of graphs and diagrams purporting to show how the expression of “VMAT2” (also known as the “god gene”) was more prevalent in religious fanatics. The notion of a “god gene,” that genetics determine human spirituality, was an idea that was proposed in a book by geneticist Dean Hamer in 2004.
“So what you’re getting at is by studying this virus, we’re going to eliminate individuals from throwing on a bomb vest, going into a market and blowing up the market?” asked someone in the audience. “Our hypothesis is that these are fanatical people, they have overexpression of the VMAT2 gene, and by vaccinating them against it, will eliminate this behavior,” the speaker replied.
While the attribution to Gates appears to be new, the video itself isn’t. Like most online hoaxes, it’s enjoyed a relatively long, muddled existence on the internet.
Conspiracy debunker Snopes wrote about an earlier version of the video in 2015. They traced it back to a blog on a fringe conspiracy website called wanttoknow.info from 2007 that claimed to expose a secret Pentagon project dubbed “FunVax.” “The Pentagon may vaccinate large populations in the Middle East with what’s being called FunVax – a fundamentalist vaccine,” the article claimed.
The article linked out to the video (embedded on another fringe site) and to a “government document” about the program.
But as Snopes points out, the person blogging about “FunVax” even acknowledged that there was “some possibility that the above video and document are faked.”